Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere has said athletes should have to queue up for the coronavirus vaccine just like everyone else.
His comments come after UAE Team Emirates became the first WorldTour team to get vaccinated in Abu Dhabi during a training camp, the squad saying they were delighted to be able to “protect ourselves and others through taking the vaccine”.
UAE Team Emirates ability to get vaccinated so swiftly was thanks to the squad’s ties to the country on the Arabian Peninsula, who have offered the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine to all citizens.
“That means that they are more efficient than us. The team or the country? I think it mainly has to do with the country,” Lefevere told Sporza. “I don’t think any team can touch a vaccine right now unless they do it in a devious way. But it doesn’t make them ride faster. Although you are safe if you have received a vaccine.”
The Belgian added he wouldn’t want his riders to jump the queue ahead of other citizens just because they were professional cyclists, and unlike IOC member Dick Pound, doesn’t believe athletes should be prioritised.
“I wouldn’t like to be on the first page of the newspaper and everyone saying that the riders are allowed a bit more because they ride a bicycle,” Lefevere said. “Athletes just have to queue up, just like everyone else.”
59 members of UAE Team Emirates were vaccinated in total, 27 riders and 32 support staff, with team boss Mauro Gianetti having had the jab before Christmas after being part of a volunteer group involved in trials of the Sinopharm vaccine.
Alongside Pound’s comments regarding Olympic athletes, the British Olympic Association are said to be in talks with the UK Government over securing coronavirus vaccines to ensure British athletes are able to compete.