The International Olympic Committee has accepted China’s offer to supply coronavirus vaccines for participants in the next Summer and Winter Games, in an apparent win for Beijing as it battles boycott calls . In the IOC annual session on Thursday, president Thomas Bach said the Chinese Olympic Committee pledged doses for unvaccinated participants for both the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. “We are grateful for this offer which is in the true Olympic spirit of solidarity,” Bach told the online meeting. “In this spirit, the IOC will pay for these additional doses of vaccines not only for the Olympic but also for the Paralympic teams.” He added that for each dose given to an Olympic participant, the IOC would buy two more for people in that person’s home country. The vaccine partnership comes amid growing calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics in protest over China’s treatment of Uygurs – a Turkic ethnic minority group in the far western region of Xinjiang – with various politicians in the United States, Canada and Britain describing the treatment as genocide . Human rights groups and the United Nations have alleged that as many as 1 million Uygurs and other Muslim minorities were detained in internment camps in Xinjiang, and subjected to indoctrination, torture, or forced labour. Beijing has repeatedly denied the allegations and said its policies in Xinjiang were to fight terrorism and religious extremism, and reduce poverty. China’s foreign ministry has said the calls for a boycott violate the Olympic spirit and are “doomed to fail”. Tokyo 2020 Olympics: no Chinese vaccines to be taken by Team Japan, minister says On Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the partnership with the IOC showed China was fulfilling President Xi Jinping’s pledge of making Chinese vaccines a global public good. Huang Yanzhong, a global health expert at the US think tank the Council on Foreign Relations, said China’s offer was a brilliant vaccine diplomacy move, because it was a low-cost way to shore up support from developing countries and their athletes. “Beijing is offering vaccines to athletes from lower-income countries who are more likely to not have access to or cannot afford vaccines. It will certainly encourage them to lend their support to the Olympic Games in Beijing,” Huang said. “I think this is a coup for Beijing in practising effective vaccine diplomacy. Why hasn’t the US thought of this or Japan? I think it’s a brilliant idea.” However, China’s offer was not included in the presentation at the meeting by the Tokyo games organisers, suggesting they had not been told about the proposal. The Japanese presentation did cover coronavirus safety and prevention for the event, which is scheduled to take place between July 23 and August 8, but when asked about vaccinations for athletes who had already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the Tokyo organising committee, could not give an answer. “The question was when vaccinations will begin for athletes, but the national government, for the time being, has only announced [vaccination] scheduling for the elderly. And beyond that, no clear timeline has been announced by the government,” Muto said at the session. Tokyo 2020 Olympics: re-elected Thomas Bach promises ‘safe, secure’ Games On Friday, Japanese Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa said a Chinese vaccine was not a likely option for Japanese athletes as they had not been approved by the government. Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that there had been no prior consultations from the IOC about the proposal. The Tokyo Olympics organisers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. IOC president Bach said the vaccine partnership was also struck to ensure the security of the Tokyo games. He said a significant number of Olympic teams had been vaccinated, and more were in talks with various governments to inoculate athletes. Fears that overseas athletes and spectators could spread the coronavirus have grown in Japan, with 77 per cent of respondents in a poll by Japanese newspaper the Yomiuri saying they were against spectators visiting the country for the events. The Japanese government was considering banning overseas spectators although the IOC said no final decision had been reached, Kyodo reported. The IOC said its plan was to make doses available to the national Olympic committees in territories that had already approved the Chinese vaccines, with other details still being worked out. While the IOC would try to ensure as many athletes and staff members would be vaccinated before arriving to the games, participation would not depend on inoculation, it said. There are questions over the safety and efficacy of the Chinese vaccines, with manufacturers yet to publish clinical trial data. The World Health Organization has not approved the shots for emergency use. Sinovac Biotech says the efficacy of its jab is 50.4 per cent while Sinopharm puts its rate at 79 per cent, compared with more than 90 per cent for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.