A debate is brewing between former gold medalist Maya DiRado and some American swimmers over Michael Andrew’s decision not to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus as he prepares to compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
DiRado sparked the speech this week with a long Twitter thread in which she wrote that she was “disappointed” with Andrew’s decision to compete without a vaccination and his reasoning.
As a former member of Team USA, I am disappointed with the decision to @SwimmerMichael to attend the Olympics without being vaccinated and his reasoning behind. Please let me explain [1/8]
Andrew revealed earlier this month that he was not vaccinated after being asked about his status by a reporter.
âThe reason behind this is that, to begin with, 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,â he said.
âAs an elite level athlete everything we do is very calculated and understood. For me in the training cycle, especially before practice, I didn’t want to risk a day. There were periods. where you take a vaccine, you have to deal with a few days off. “
Andrew said he had no plans to get the vaccine in the future.
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âWe feel very safe and protected knowing that we are minimizing risk as much as possible,â he said, citing daily testing during the Olympics.
Only unvaccinated swim team member
The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and the International Olympic Committee have not made the vaccination of athletes compulsory to compete. Just over 20% of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated. The IOC has reported 13 positive cases among all athletes in Japan.
About 100 of the 613 U.S. athletes in Tokyo are unvaccinated, the medical chief of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said on Friday. Andrew is the only member of the US swim team to publicly reveal that he is not vaccinated.
Medical director Jonathan Finnoff said 567 of the U.S. athletes completed their medical histories as they prepared for the trip, and about 83 percent responded that they were vaccinated.
âEighty-three percent is actually a substantial number and we’re very happy with that,â Finnoff said.
The IOC has estimated that around 85 percent of the residents of the Olympic Village are vaccinated; it’s based on what each country’s Olympic committee reports, but it’s not an independently verified number.
âThat Michael makes a decision that puts even a little bit of risk on his teammates for his own perceived well-being frustrates me,â DiRado wrote. She is one of three athlete representatives on USA Swimming’s board of directors, having retired after the Rio 2016 Games, where she won four medals, including two gold.
The best Americans – Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky, Lilly King and Simone Manuel – all said they were fully vaccinated.
Former gold medalist Anthony Ervin tweeted to DiRado that Andrew had COVID-19 in December, “and therefore has natural immunity.”
What part of that responsibility involves shaming one of our Olympians on the eve of a competition?
Olympic debut medal hope
Andrew topped the US Trials last month with impressive times in qualifying for the 100-meter breaststroke, 200 IM and 50 freestyle to earn his first Olympic spot.
The 22-year-old swimmer who lives in Encinitas, Calif. First created waves in the sport when he turned pro at 14. He is trained by his father, Peter, using a non-traditional method known as Ultra Short Race Pace. Coaching. It only involves swimming at your target running pace or faster in practice. It eliminates drills, kicks, or any technique-based work. His mother, Tina, is his agent.
âWe have chosen a path. We are proud of it,â said Andrew. “It’s cool to finally get to this point and for people to see that all these years of hard work and the fact that we can do it differently makes sense.”
The back-and-forth online was surprising, as American swimmers typically present a positive, united front at the Games while emphasizing team success rather than individual achievement.
“Michael is allowed to make his own decisions and I can guarantee you none of us here hold such a decision against him,” tweeted teammate Patrick Callan. “He always does everything in the best interests of this team.”