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US Swimmer Going for Gold: No Vaccine for Me

Michael Andrew among unvaccinated athletes facing stricter protocol at Olympics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2021 10:09 AM CDT

(Newser) USA Today dubs Michael Andrew the "biggest Olympic name yet" to reveal he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. The 22-year-old Team USA swimmer—a gold medal favorite who holds the US record in the men's 100-meter breaststroke and posted the fastest time in five years in his trial in the 200-meter individual medley—told the outlet that he opted not to get a shot as he feared side effects could disrupt his training. "I didn't want to put anything in my body that I didn't know how I would potentially react to," Andrew said during a Thursday Zoom call. "For me, in the training cycle, especially leading up to trials, I didn't want to risk any days out." The athlete, who has been training with the swim team in Hawaii, said he didn't plan on getting the vaccine in the future.

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Olympic athletes aren't required to be vaccinated, even with Tokyo under a new state of emergency, though USA Swimming President Tim Hinchey estimated that 90% of US swimmers had received shots ahead of last month's US Olympic trials. Andrew said USA Swimming has instituted a "very strict protocol with lots of testing, masks" and social distancing, and the same protocol would be in place in Tokyo. But USA Today suggests he could be automatically disqualified from events, including the 50-meter freestyle, if he's found to have had contact with an infected person. That's apparently not the case with vaccinated athletes. Per Yahoo, Andrew will stay with Team USA in Olympic Village, where the International Olympic Committee says about 80% of residents will be vaccinated. (Read more Tokyo Olympics stories.)

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