American swimmer Michael Andrew, who is expected to compete for gold medals at the Olympic Games, confirmed Thursday that he will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to completing in Tokyo.
Andrew will represent Team USA in the 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter individual medley, and 50-meter freestyle competitions.
What is the background?
After contracting COVID-19 in late 2020, Andrew revealed in January that he would not be receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
"So my thought pattern is kind of like, if I've already got it, there's not as much health risk for me," he said. According to the Washington Post, Andrew also voiced "unspoken concerns" about the virus. "Just because everyone's heading in one direction, why do we have to follow that direction?" Andrew questioned.
What did Andrew say this week?
Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Andrew said he will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to traveling to Tokyo.
"My reason behind it is— for one, it was in the last moment I didn't want to put anything in my body that I didn't know how I would potentially react to," Andrew said Thursday.
"As an athlete on the elite level, everything we do is very calculated," he explained. "For me in the training cycles and especially at trials, I didn't want to risk any days out, because there are periods where if you take a vaccine, you have to deal with some days off."
Reuters noted that Andrew added that he would not receive the vaccine in the "distant future," either.
Andrew, however, said he will comply with all enhanced health measures required of unvaccinated athletes.
"All of us here have been through very strict protocols, with lots of testing, masks, socially distant, staying away from crowds — everything like that," Andrew said. "Going into Tokyo, the same thing, with testing every day. So we feel very safe and protected, knowing that we're minimizing risk as much as possible. But personally, I have not had the vaccine yet and don't plan on it in the distant future."
According to the Washington Post, there is no vaccine mandate for Olympic athletes.
From the Post:
A USA Swimming spokesperson told The Post that the organization could not mandate vaccines for its athletes, because the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the IOC have not mandated them, but that unvaccinated athletes and coaches — Peter Andrew [the father of Michael Andrew] is an assistant for the U.S. team — would be subject to enhanced health-and-safety protocols during the training camp in Hawaii and the Olympics in Tokyo.
Still, there will be no spectators in attendance at the games this year due to rising COVID-19 cases in Japan.
The host country has declared a state of emergency.