Why US swim star Michael Andrew isn’t vaccinated for Olympics

One of Team USA’s premier swimmers is heading to the Tokyo Olympics without being vaccinated.

Michael Andrew, the 2016 world champion in the 100-meter individual medley who recently flirted with the 200-meter world record last month, has not received the COVID-19 vaccine. During a USA Swimming media call on Thursday, Andrew, 22, conceded that he will not be vaccinated in the “distant future.”

“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,” Andrew said. “As an athlete on the elite level, everything you do is very calculated and understood. For me, in the training cycle, especially leading up to trials, 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.”

Andrew’s comments come in the wake of escalating concern over the COVID-19 Delta variant, which has triggered a state of emergency in Tokyo ahead of the fast-approaching Games. Nearly the entirety of the Olympics will be held under emergency guidelines, while fans will be barred from attending.

There is no vaccine mandate for Olympic athletes. A positive test would lead to Andrew’s removal from the Games, while a close contact with an infected person would necessitate a quarantine that could impact his training and competition.

Michael Andrew vaccine Olympics swimming
Michael Andrew during the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on June 14, 2021.
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Andrew expressed confidence in the existing protocol to ensure his safety.

“USA Swimming and all of us here have been through a very strict protocol with lots of testing, masks, socially distant, obviously staying away from crowds, everything like that,” he said. “And 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.”

In his first Olympics, Andrew will be representing the U.S. in the 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter individual medley and 50-meter freestyle.

Though not the only unvaccinated athlete destined for Tokyo, Andrew is in the minority. Last month, USA Swimming President and CEO Tim Hinchey estimated that “around 90 percent” of the U.S. national team had been vaccinated.

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