The UAE’s Tour de France-Winning Cycling Team Is Getting a COVID Vaccine Next Month

They're slated to get the Sinopharm vaccine

107th Tour de France 2020 - Stage 21
David De La Cruz Melgarejo of Spain and UAE Team Emirates / Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Yellow Leader Jersey / Alexander Kristoff of Norway and UAE Team Emirates / Louvre Museum / Paris City / Peloton / during the 107th Tour de France 2020.
Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Besides the precautions taken for the coronavirus, this year’s Tour de France was historic for a host of reasons. Several of those could be chalked up to the man who eventually won it: Tadej Pogacar was the race’s youngest winner in over a century. He’s one of the many cyclists on UAE Team Emirates, and it turns out that their Tour de France win comes with some other benefits — like getting the COVID-19 vaccine in the very near future.

At The Wall Street Journal, Joshua Robinson has the details on how this came to be. “Next month,” Robinson writes, “the defending Tour champions will likely become the first team in major professional sports to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

In this case, the vaccine will be the Sinopharm vaccine, developed in China, which recently concluded its Phase III trials in the UAE. According to the Wall Street Journal report, 100 cyclists and support staff for the team are slated to receive the vaccine in early January. As Robinson notes, the bulk of the riders and staff don’t hail from the UAE originally — meaning that they’ll be vaccinated a lot earlier than they may have expected.

This news may come as a particular benefit to one member of the team: Fernando Gaviria, who has already been infected with COVID-19 twice. For others, it’s a benefit that most teams can’t offer their riders — something that may prove contentious in the future.

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