Wednesday 12 May 2022
Papua New Guinean athletes under the age of 18 are now able to compete in major international sporting events after Minister for HIV/Aids, Hon. Jelta Wong, approved a special permit for their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Minister Wong said that following consultations between the government, medical partners and the PNG Olympic Committee, approval was given for under-18 members of PNG sporting teams to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
“Following a request to the Australian Government, a special delivery of Moderna doses was made from Australia’s domestic vaccine supplies to ensure the athletes could be vaccinated in time for the Games,” Mr Wong said.
Over the weekend the first 22 athletes received their first vaccination in preparation for the Pacific Mini Games to be held in the Northern Mariana Islands in June, and the Commonwealth Games in England in July.
“We have many fine athletes under the age of 18 who have great international athletic careers ahead of them, and our government wants to give them every opportunity to reach their full potential,” Minister Wong said.
“We cannot forget that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic that is killing thousands of people, and vaccination against COVID-19 is a fact of life for anyone who desire international travel.
“The vaccinations are of course voluntary, but many countries and sporting organisations will not allow athletes to gain entry and compete if they have not been vaccinated.”
The Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee made the request for at least 70 athletes to be provided with the vaccine in time to enable their departure.
The PNG Olympic Committee made the request on behalf of National Federations whose sports are preparing for their respective international tournaments for under 18s.
“ Importantly – the athletes who are being vaccinated have been granted consent from their parents/ legal guardians.
“This will enable any under-18 athletes and support staff to travel to and compete in the Pacific Mini Games, the Commonwealth Games in England in July, respective International Federation sanctioned events, and also the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands next year”.
Minister Wong said the decision to approve the use of the Moderna vaccine was made in consultation with the PNG Medical Board, the Paediatric Society of Papua New Guinea, the COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce and other stakeholders.
“We take vaccine safety very seriously in Papua New Guinea with the health and wellbeing of our people as the paramount deciding factor.
“Before taking any decision on expanding the use of any vaccine we rely on our own and the best international research.
“Then our government makes the decision in partnership with stakeholders on which vaccines will be offered to our people on a voluntary basis.
“On behalf of the Marape-Basil Government I wish our young athletes every success as you carry the flag of our Nation to the international stage and compete to the best of their abilities.
“Your Government and your people stand ready to cheer you on all the way as you represent Papua New Guinea in your chosen sports.,” Mr Wong added.