‘I didn’t want to risk any days out’, says Team USA athlete of training for Olympics
US Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew has admitted to refusing a Covid vaccination before competing in Tokyo.
The athlete told USA Today on Thursday he refused a vaccine because it could interfere with his training ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which are set to begin on 23 July amid a state of emergency.
“I am not fully vaccinated, I’m not vaccinated,” said the 22-year-old. “My reason behind it is, for one, it was kind of a last moment, I didn’t want to put anything in my body that I didn’t know how I would potentially react to.”
“I didn’t want to risk any days out. There were periods where you take a vaccine, you have to deal with some days off.”
The two-week sporting event is set to kick off amid a spike in Covid infections and a state of emergency in Tokyo, where officials on Thursday announced a ban on spectators.
Although organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have not made Covid vaccination mandatory for athletes arriving in Tokyo, the ongoing risk of infection has caused concern for national teams, including Team USA.
Unvaccinated athletes risk disqualification for a positive Covid test, or coming into contact with an infected individual, and anyone with Covid will be transferred to an isolation “hotel”.
Team USA announced recently that 90 per cent of its athletes had been vaccinated ahead of Tokyo’s games, but it was not clear which athletes had refused.
Mr Andrew, the US swimmer, added on Thursday he felt safe going into the Olympic games, which are set to force athletes to isolate, social distance and test for infection every day.
“USA Swimming and all of us here have been through very strict protocol with lots of testing, masks, socially distant, staying away from the crowds, everything like that,” said Mr Andrew of the precautions taken by the national governing body.
“Going into Tokyo, the same thing with testing every day, so we feel very safe and protected knowing that we’re minimising risk as much as possible, but personally I have not had the vaccine yet and don’t plan on it in the future. We’ll see as things go forward.”
The British Olympic Association (BOC) has also admitted that 10 of its 376 athletes will not be vaccinated from Covid at Tokyo.
The Independent has approached Team USA for comment.