Barbados will require participants at Games to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 ©Getty Images

Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) has announced COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for athletes and officials seeking to represent the nation in regional and international events.

The BOA Board said the decision was made due to restrictions and challenges faced in attending international events.

Government officials and persons exempted from vaccination due to medical or religious reasons will not be included in the policy, the BOA added.

The BOA said it will be guided by Barbados’ Ministry of Health and Wellness as to the definition of a fully vaccinated person as determined from time to time.

The organisation highlighted the requirement to transit through the United States to attend some Games, with the nation having legislated for all foreign travellers entering the nation to be fully vaccinated.

Participation at the recent Cali 2021 Junior Pan American Games had required all delegations to be fully vaccinated, the BOA also noted.

The BOA said vaccines are not currently mandatory to compete at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, but noting athletes will participate alongside vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The policy has been seen as part of an overall strategy to mitigate risks associated with taking delegations to overseas events, with the BOA adding it has secured COVID-19 insurance at considerable cost from 2021.

This will see the BOA assume full responsibility if a team member tests positive, including potentially incurring additional charges.

The BOA hope the policy will help provide extra protection for athletes at events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games  ©Getty Images
The BOA hope the policy will help provide extra protection for athletes at events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

"The emergence of multiple variants of COVID-19 suggests that everyone involved in sport will be required to adapt to the new norm of living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future," the BOA added.

"Most sports require athletes to abandon established COVID-19 protocols such as the wearing of masks while competing, and in some cases, to be in very close physical contact in enclosed spaces.

"The Board’s view is that while being vaccinated does not guarantee that a person will not become infected with the virus, available evidence suggests that vaccinations provide an additional layer of protection, and unvaccinated individuals may suffer more severe symptoms if infected.

"The BOA is committed to creating a safe environment as far as possible for Team Barbados when travelling and competing overseas and believes a fully vaccinated team will contribute to this."

The BOA said the policy will come into effect from January 1.

The organisation said this will allow people to comply with the policy.

The BOA previously held a seminar in October to encourage people to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

BOA director Dr Adrian Lorde led the seminar, where he provided answers to questions about vaccines.