All Air Force personnel heading to remote Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland to bring the Olympic spirit will be COVID-19 vaccinated, a Defence spokesperson has confirmed.
At least 13 Royal Australian Air Force personnel will head to Indigenous communities Ngarupai/Horn Island and Lockhart River next month to bring live coverage of the Tokyo Olympics and interactive experiences.
However, with the outbreak of Covid cases in New South Wales this month - and only 50 per cent of the Defence force receiving their first vaccine dose as of June 30 - concerns loomed about personnel entering remote Indigenous communities.
A Defence spokesperson said community and Indigenous elders in both remote communities had been consulted and in talk with the Air Force ahead of the trip.
"Their input will be a vital consideration in finalising plans for the tour," they said.
"Defence anticipates that a minimum of 13 Royal Australian Air Force personnel will support No. 35 Squadron-assisted components of the Australian Olympic Committee's Olympics live. All personnel will be COVID-19 vaccinated.
"Planning for this activity will include a full risk assessment, including risks posed by COVID-19. The tour will only proceed if it is safe to enter regional communities. All activities will be conducted in line with the relevant health restrictions and guidance."
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Horn Island in the Torres Strait had a population of 531 people in the 2016 census, with 72 per cent identifying as Indigenous.
Similarly, Lockhart River recorded a population of 724 in the last census and more than 86 per cent identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
The trip is planned to take place from August 4-6, with a RAAF C-27J Spartan aircraft loaded with equipment and personnel to stage live Olympic sites in each small community. The Olympics will be broadcast live on a large TV screen, alongside community basketball games and various sport equipment will be given out to residents.
AOC Indigenous Advisory Committee member, and National Indigenous Basketball Academy director, Danny Morseu said the program aimed to help inspire future Olympians.
"We're working with the communities to build long-term relationships and inspire young people using the power of sport. We want the children of the Torres Strait to connect with the Olympic dream and strive to produce the best versions of themselves," he said.
"The tour will also offer youth within these communities the opportunity to gain insight into how our athletes achieve success and learn about their ability to set goals, build resilience and critical self-confidence."
Defence confirmed the No. 35 Squadron routinely conduct flight training at remote airfields in Australia's north and the program was part of their ongoing engagement with Indigenous communities.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has thrown her support behind the initiative, as she said it recognised the power of sport to inspire and connect people regardless of where they lived.
"We are a vast state but we are also inclusive, and this initiative celebrates the positive role sport can play in creating opportunity for young Queenslanders," she said.
"It is inspiring to think that the young athletes of today could be our future Olympians at a potential home games in 2032.
"These Olympic programs not only help to open up elite pathways but also support healthy and active communities."