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Star U.S. Olympic swimmer defends decision to not get vaccinated

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Star American swimmer Michael Andrew says he is standing by his decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine before the Tokyo Olympics. 

Andrew, an Olympic gold medal favorite, said in an interview on the Fox Business show “Varney & Co.” on Tuesday that remaining unvaccinated is a “risk” he’s willing to take. 

“Everything we take and put in our body is very calculated,” he said. “You know, with the period going into Olympic trials, I didn’t want to risk any time out of the pool.” 

Andrew said he didn’t think it was “necessary” to get the shot as Tokyo Olympics neared. However, he says he still isn’t taking the virus “lightly.”

“Obviously, there’s fear involved and there’s nerves behind the decision,” he said. 

Michael Andrew celebrates after winning the men’s 100m breaststroke final during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Swimming competition at CHI Health Center Omaha. 

Rob Schumacher

The 22-year-old told reporters last week that he wasn’t vaccinated and didn’t plan on getting a shot. Andrew, who said he contracted COVID months ago, justified his decision by citing potential vaccine side effects affecting his training schedule. He also said he felt “safe and protected” by USA Swimming’s safety protocols already put in place. 

Andrew, who holds the record in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke, is the highest profile American athlete to come out publicly to say he isn’t vaccinated. His comments came as Japan entered a state of emergency over the pandemic.   

“Going to the Games not only unvaccinated, but as an American, I’m representing my country in multiple ways and the freedoms we have to make a decision like that,” he said. 

Andrew is heading to his first Olympic Games with Team USA, where he’ll compete in the 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter individual medley and 50-meter freestyle.  

Athletes are not required to get vaccinated at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in March, while the organization is supportive of them getting the COVID-19 shot. The IOC estimated in June that over 80% of athletes will have their shots. 



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