Ireland's Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be vaccinated ahead of this summer's Games in Tokyo.

The athletes and support teams, which number in the low hundreds, will receive the Pfizer jab thanks to an agreement between the pharmaceutical company and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The development has been welcomed by the Irish Olympic and Paralympic federations who believe the measure will relieve "very high levels of anxiety that a lack of vaccination was causing among the team".

The majority of leading medal-winning nations have already committed to providing vaccinations to their athletes and support staff, but others, including Great Britain, have held back.

It has been clarified that the vaccinations will be supplementary to the existing allocations that Ireland is administering, and will not negatively impact the vaccinations that are being administered around the country already.

A joint statement said: "A positive diagnosis this close to the Games still has the potential to exclude athletes from competition.

"During Games time, vaccination will be of crucial importance in providing protection for the team, and minimising, although not removing entirely, the risk of contagion and elimination from competition."

Speaking today, Olympic Federation of Ireland President, Sarah Keane said: "I would like to thank the IOC and IPC on behalf of Team Ireland for this very significant breakthrough. It provides the athletes and support staff who work so hard to represent us internationally with the appropriate level of care in advance of the Games."

IOC president Thomas Bach said: "This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts.

"We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible."

President of Paralympics Ireland, John Fulham said: "To be able to provide the necessary level of care for our athletes and staff, as they seek to perform at the highest level, has been our primary concern. We have been working tirelessly in seeking the best solutions, conscious of the broader societal pressures at this time, ensuring those most vulnerable took priority."

In a statement today, Pfizer and the IOC laid out a timeline for the vaccination programme for Olympians from countries not currently vaccinating their athletes.

"Delivery of initial doses to participating delegations is expected to begin at the end of May where possible with the aim to ensure participating delegations receive second doses ahead of arrivals in Tokyo," they said in a joint statement.