The 2020 Tour De France champion UAE Team Emirates will likely be the first major professional sports organization in the world to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
The team’s cyclists and support staff — about 100 people — are considered relatively “high priority” due to the value Emirati authorities place on the nation’s international sports reputation.
The squad will receive China’s Sinopharm vaccine when it arrives in Abu Dhabi for a training camp on Jan. 6.
Only one of the team’s 30 riders is actually from the UAE, while the other 29 share 12 different nationalities — very few would be immediately eligible for vaccines in their home nations.
The news comes as U.S. sports organizations are grappling with how to move forward amid the pandemic.
- The NHL is reportedly interested in privately financing vaccines for every player
- The NFL has insisted it will not arrange for players to cut vaccine lines
- The NBA is said to be planning a widespread educational campaign to encourage vaccination among players
Some experts suggest that vaccinating star athletes early on could help persuade more of the American public to do so, with the potential benefits outweighing backlash.