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Corona Vaccination In Competitive Sports | The Athletes And The Spades

99 percent in basketball, 60 percent in tennis: How differently in sports the topic of vaccination is dealt with and why it is special for athletes.

According to Joshua Kimmich, the vortex was great. But the FC Bayern player who is skeptical of vaccinations is an exception. There is no exact data on the willingness to vaccinate among athletes, says sports medicine specialist Wilhelm Bloch from the German Sport University in Cologne. He believes, however, that the willingness to vaccinate among athletes is as high as in the normal population. "The vast majority" have a "high willingness to vaccinate and an understanding of the necessity" of vaccination . Individual vaccination skeptics, however, would get a lot of media attention.

The head of the German Football League Christian Seifert said that 94 percent of the players, coaches and supervisors in the two highest German leagues have now been vaccinated. These figures are based on voluntary information provided by the clubs . The vaccination rate would even be significantly higher than in the population.

Some teams such as FC Augsburg are fully vaccinated by their own account. In response to a request from sportschau.de , FSV Mainz 05 and Eintracht Frankfurt announced that 98 percent of the licensed players had been vaccinated. So all but one person. Other Bundesliga teams are reluctant when it comes to exact numbers. Ulf Baranowsky, managing director of the players' union VdV, says: "According to our information, only a few players are still not fully vaccinated." But he did not give exact numbers. In his opinion, the quarantine cases in Mainz and the improved medical education provided a vaccination impulse.

On the first day of the Bundesliga, 1. FC Mainz 05 had to face RB Leipzig with a team after several corona cases. Apparently, some Mainz players were not (yet) vaccinated before. Even then, there was a debate about how to deal with vaccination among professional athletes. In any case, in the DFL the rule applies: There is no compulsory vaccination, but anyone who is not vaccinated must be tested regularly.

What is noticeable: The willingness to vaccinate seems to differ greatly from sport to sport. In the basketball league, 99 percent of the players were said to have been vaccinated as early as May, and the league said that little persuasion was necessary. In the German Ice Hockey League, 93 percent of the active population are said to be vaccinated. The vaccination rates in the major US sports leagues are also very high. They are given as 94 (NFL), 95 (NBA) and 98 to 99 percent (NHL). This could also be due to the tough requirements in the USA. The basketball player Kryrie Irving was excluded from his team because in New York the 2G rule applies not only to spectators, but also to athletes. In the NHL ice hockey league, unvaccinated players would have to be quarantined for two weeks if they were to travel back and forth between the USA and Canada. what is necessary in view of teams in both countries. In the NFL, the entire team would not receive a salary if a game had to be canceled due to a corona outbreak among unvaccinated athletes.

In tennis, however, there have been debates for months about who is vaccinated and who is not. The superstar Novak Đoković has long been considered a vaccine skeptic. His vaccination status is a "private matter," he said. The two world associations ATP and WTA said that the vaccination rate among tennis players was around 60 percent. One can only speculate about the reasons for the lower rate. Perhaps the group dynamics in team sports could have a positive effect on the willingness to vaccinate, says sports medicine specialist Bloch. But that is "from the gut," he adds.

Many individual athletes, however, have no concerns whatsoever. The Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel recently said: "I have had myself vaccinated. Obviously I travel a lot." It is a decision that should not only be made from an individual point of view, but "also for other people and out of solidarity".

In the case of athletes, the question of vaccination is once again special. On the one hand, they are among the groups of people who have the lowest probability of a severe course of a corona infection: They are under 40 years old and fit. On the other hand, their body is their capital, their tools, they are dependent on it. "Basically, athletes are relatively well positioned in terms of their immune defenses," says Bloch. "Nevertheless, some athletes were hit with Long Covid."

It is precisely these long-term consequences of an infection that are particularly problematic for athletes. While it is of little relevance for normal citizens of Ottonia whether their performance is restricted by a few percentage points over a longer period of time, for competitive athletes this can make the difference between victory or defeat. Even outside of the absolute top, such nuances can be important in deciding whether the status of professional athlete can be maintained. However, there are still many gray areas in the research area relating to Covid-19 and competitive sports. Some precise data are not yet available. The Cosmo-S study at the Ulm University Hospital is currently investigating the exact effect of Long Covid on athletes.

Bloch has also dealt with athletes who were skeptical about the vaccination. "Concerns usually go in the direction of uncertainty about the side effects of the vaccines. Above all, fear of new technologies," says Bloch. He tried to dispel these concerns in an interview.

Even athletes do not have to pay attention to any real peculiarities when vaccinating. In the first few days after the vaccination, it is only necessary to adjust the training a little, says Bloch. However, some athletes also reported that they were fit again quickly in everyday life after a vaccination, but were still restricted in training for a long time. The athletes Carolin Schäfer and Kai Kazmirek, for example, suffered from the consequences of a corona vaccination for many weeks . This made it difficult to qualify for the Olympic Games and led to relatively disappointing results in Tokyo.

Either way, some people in sport want more understanding for skeptical female athletes. It must be accepted if individual players are still concerns have about side effects of vaccination, writes Carsten Ramelow, former professional Bayer Leverkusen and vice president of the players' union VdV : "In interviews immediately after a Bundesliga match in my opinion should by questions about the sporting history of the game in the foreground and not exclusively energetic questions about the personal vaccination situation of the player, who thus comes under pressure to justify himself. "

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