Canadian athletes must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to be selected for Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has mandated that all athletes, coaches and officials heading to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) is to implement the same policy.

It comes after the Canadian Government enacted rules which will require all passengers at Canadian airports to be vaccinated against the virus, and will avoid any members of the Canadian delegation needing to self-isolate for 21 days upon their arrival in China.

"We know that the best way to keep athletes, staff, and the communities we live, train and compete in safe, is for all members of Team Canada to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19," COC chief executive and secretary general David Shoemaker said.

"For that reason, and the recent announcement by the Federal Government that all air travellers must be fully vaccinated by October 30 2021, we notified potential Beijing 2022 hopefuls and Mission Team members by email earlier today that they must be fully vaccinated to be named to Team Canada. 

"In that email we encouraged anyone with questions or concerns to contact us or their National Sport Organization’s medical lead for support. 

"We brought 840 people to and from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games without a single positive case, and we want to do the same for Beijing. 

"A fully vaccinated team following robust hygiene and physical distancing protocols is the best way to do that."

The COC and CPC join the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee in insisting that all Beijing 2022 athletes must be fully inoculated against coronavirus.

David Shoemaker said the Canadian Olympic Committee delegation did not encounter a single coronavirus case at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
David Shoemaker said the Canadian Olympic Committee delegation did not encounter a single coronavirus case at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

While Beijing 2022 has suggested medical exemptions could allow some unvaccinated people to enter the "closed-loop management system" all Games-related personnel will exist in without having to isolate at a quarantine hotel for 21 days, its policy can effectively been seen as a vaccine mandate given the negative impact 21 days in a hotel room would have on any unvaccinated athlete's immediate preparations for the Games.

The first of the so-called playbooks outlining COVID-19 countermeasures Games stakeholders are expected to adhere to during Beijing 2022 are due to be published later this month.

The Winter Olympics are fewer than four months away, with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for February 4, while the Paralympics will begin on March 4.

"Our commitment to ensure the health and safety of each and every member of the Canadian Paralympic Team is of the utmost importance to us," added CPC chief executive Karen O'Neill. 

"Our efforts to keep the team safe were successful at the Tokyo Games, and building on that success our aim is to take the next step for Beijing with a vaccine mandate for the entire team - athletes, coaches, support staff, and contractors. 

"Full vaccination is the most effective tool at our disposal as we continue our preparations for the Paralympic Winter Games."

The Olympic Flame is now in China, having been lit in Ancient Olympia this week.

Protestors interrupted the lighting ceremony, displaying a banner which read "NO GENOCIDE GAMES", with the group Free Tibet claiming responsibility.

China's record on human rights promises to be one of the major themes of the build-up to the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, along with the global health crisis.