The Tokyo metropolitan government on Friday started coronavirus vaccinations for staff and media members who will work at this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
The metropolitan government aims to inoculate around 2,500 people per day through the end of August using Pfizer Inc. vaccine doses provided by the International Olympic Committee.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike visited a vaccination center, set up at an observatory on the 45th floor of the local government's headquarters, currently closed to the public due to the pandemic, and was briefed on the inoculation process.
Under the agreement with the U.S. pharmaceutical company and the IOC, Japan has secured COVID-19 doses for around 40,000 workers related to the Tokyo Olympics, due to open July 23, and the Paralympics starting on Aug. 24.
Those eligible for the inoculation using the doses include staff and volunteers who will be working at the athletes village and competition venues, accredited media and health workers.
While Japanese organizers have said a coronavirus vaccination will not be compulsory for people working at or participating in the Olympics or Paralympics, the IOC has stressed doing so will contribute to a safe and secure games being held amid the pandemic.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday expressed his intent to hold the games with domestic spectators in attendance, provided they follow a set of anti-virus guidelines such as no loud cheering and compulsory mask-wearing. Organizers have already decided to prohibit overseas fans.
Organizers are in talks about spectator caps for venues, a decision expected to be based on the government's plan to permit the attendance of up to 10,000 at sports events in prefectures not under a state of emergency, as long as it does not surpass 50 percent of venue capacity.
Japan's Olympic athletes started receiving vaccine shots on June 1. The IOC has said 75 percent of prospective Olympic and Paralympic village residents, including about 15,000 athletes, have either already been vaccinated or are scheduled to be vaccinated, with the figure set to rise to over 80 percent when the games start.
Japan's vaccination rollout began in February, first with health care workers and then expanded to those aged 65 and older in April. Despite vaccinations ramping up quickly, the country's inoculation rate lags far behind other advanced economies.
Some municipalities, companies and state-run mass vaccination centers have recently begun administering shots to people under 65.