The Southland Times

Vaccinatio­ns begin for New Zealand team

- Andrew Voerman

Covid-19 vaccinatio­ns have started for the New Zealand team headed to the Tokyo Olympics, which are now less than 100 days away from starting.

NZ Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith confirmed yesterday that the first athletes had received their jabs.

‘‘We’re really satisfied the Government was able to put us in that category of national significan­ce, so that’s now under way and athletes have been worked through according to when they might be departing,’’ she said.

Those who have already headed overseas or will soon do so include the country’s rowers, some of whom still have to qualify, and sailors, with several Olympians involved in the New Zealand Sail GP team, which has its first regatta next weekend in Bermuda.

Smith was speaking at The Cloud in Auckland, where she gathered alongside a number of athletes to mark the 100-day milestone.

It was a marker they didn’t get to last year, as the impact of the Covid19 pandemic began to be felt worldwide in March, forcing the postponeme­nt of the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed a year.

And for Smith that meant yesterday was a chance for reflection ahead of the mad sprint to come leading up to the opening ceremony on July 23.

‘‘It’s really a great time to reflect and to think about where we’ve come from and also to feel slightly daunted by the challenges ahead,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re really pleased with the progress, and it’s just really cool to have people excited and athletes feeling the pathway is there, that they can see it now.’’

While yesterday marked 100 days until the opening ceremony, the first New Zealand athletes are set to be in action shortly before that, with the Football Ferns scheduled to play their first match two days earlier, and the OlyWhites national men’s under-24 football team set to play theirs the day before.

Archers and rowers are also set to start their Olympic campaigns before the flame is lit at the Japan National Stadium, but Smith was certain this week’s milestone would give all the country’s athletes ‘‘clarity and confidence’’ as they look forward to an event that is ‘‘certainly not going to look and feel the same’’ as past ones.

 ??  ?? NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith speaks at an event to mark 100 days until the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.
NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith speaks at an event to mark 100 days until the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

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