The football world has been shaken by the novel coronavirus pandemic, and in order for things to eventually return to normal, international competitions are looking into getting participants vaccinated. It has now been reported that Lionel Messi and the rest of the Argentine National Football team will be receiving the Chinese Sinovac vaccine to help protect them against COVID-19.
Argentina will be competing at the upcoming Copa America this summer, and having a coronavirus vaccine is one of the requirements in order to participate. Along with the players, every member of the coaching staff of each national association will also need to be fully vaccinated ahead of the tournament.
The Copa America is organised by the South American Football Confederation, and the same body has included the stipulation about the vaccinaion requirement.
According to Marca, Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez said, "This gives our players and the whole environment one more tool, because we all know that a team isn't made up of only players, the entire organisation will have the chance to be vaccinated."
Conmebol has prepared for the demand, and has already procured 50,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine. There is a small obstacle however, because the vaccine is not yet authorised to be used in Argentina. It takes a month between the two doses of the vaccine, meaning that inoculations must begin soon in order for them to be completed in time for the summer.
Europe and South America are both hardly-hit regions during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. The current wave continues to ravage both territories and footballers are still being tested on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the summer tournaments will also mean a lot of travelling on top of the already congested regular season schedule. This puts the players and staff members at even more risk of exposure.
It remains to be seen if other tournaments like the rescheduled European Championships will also make vaccinations mandatory. However, this has been met with some criticism, with many saying that young, healthy athletes should not be prioritised to receive the life-saving vaccine.