Leading Australian distance runners Stewart McSweyn and Brett Robinson say elite sportspeople should not be allowed to jump any queues to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics – due to start in late July – remains under a huge cloud, with a surge of COVID-19 cases in the host city.
The 25-year-old McSweyn is in the form of his life – having qualified in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m – but has yet to get the chance to compete at an Olympic Games.
“As an athlete you have to think it is going ahead,” he said while watching from trackside at Box Hill on Tuesday night as training partner Robinson succeeded him as the Australian 10,000m champion.
“Obviously we will be preparing as if it is going ahead until we get the final word.”
But he did not want athletes getting preferential treatment, even if that increased the likelihood of major sporting events such as the Olympics going ahead.
“At the end of the day we are a sport and there are a lot of people who deserve to get the vaccine before us,” said McSweyn.
“If we fall in line after the most important people get it then yeah I think we should get it.
“I saw they have started vaccines so hopefully it means we are not too far away in regards to the Olympics.
“But I don’t think we should jump the queue.”
Robinson, who has bettered the Olympic marathon qualifying standard, took a similar line.
“There are bigger things to worry about than a running race,” said the 29-year-old after claiming his first Zatopek:10 title.
“There are people dying – so just so we can do a running race I don’t think we should get priority at all.
” … there are people losing their jobs – I think that is so much worse than a running race.”
Australia’s vaccination rollout is due to begin in late February.