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Sport Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew violated protocols by refusing to wear his mask, USOPC says

09:47  30 july  2021
09:47  30 july  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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TOKYO — The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Friday afternoon that swimmer Michael Andrew’s decision not to wear a mask in the mixed zone at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre is a “violation” of COVID-19 protocols and that it is reviewing the matter with USA Swimming and “will take action as needed.”

Andrew, the highest profile unvaccinated American Olympian, did not wear a mask in the mixed zone after finishing a disappointing fifth in the men’s 200-meter individual medley Friday morning. Every other U.S. swimmer has worn a mask everywhere journalists can see them at the swimming venue except for when they are in the water competing and for a moment after the medal ceremony when they are told to briefly take off their masks for an official photo.

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a person posing for the camera: Swimmer Michael Andrew (USA), the highest profile unvaccinated American Olympian, refused to wear a mask in the mixed zone. © Christine Brennan, USA TODAY Sports Swimmer Michael Andrew (USA), the highest profile unvaccinated American Olympian, refused to wear a mask in the mixed zone.

USA TODAY Sports shared the news and a photo of Andrew on Twitter, and then received this comment from the USOPC:

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“Not wearing a mask is a violation of the covid mitigation protocols put in place by both the USOPC and TOCOG (the Tokyo Olympic organizers) – protocols we have been adamant in following as a delegation. We are currently reviewing this matter with the National Governing Body and will take action as needed.”

When asked by USA TODAY Sports why he was not wearing a mask, unlike all his U.S. teammates, Andrew said, “For me it’s pretty hard to breath in after kind of sacrificing my body in the water so I feel like my health is a little more tied to being able to breath than protecting what’s coming out of my mouth.”

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He continued: “I think it’s great that there’s procedures but at the end of the day, all of us here have been under quarantine and in the same testing protocol so there’s a level of safety (that's) comfortable when we’re racing.” 

When asked again why he is the only American not following the rules, Andrew, 22, said, “No reason. I’ll throw it on when I’m done here but to speak, it’s difficult, probably people can hear me.”

In dozens of interviews in the mixed zone over the last week, American swimmers have dutifully worn their masks and been heard clearly by journalists. 

Andrew, the American record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke who has failed to win a medal in two events at these Games, said three weeks ago that he didn’t want taking the COVID-19 vaccine to interfere with his training schedule.

Both Andrew and his mother have been quoted this year as saying he was not vaccinated and would not be, but he had not confirmed his status since making the Olympic team until he responded to a question from USA TODAY Sports during a USA Swimming media Zoom call July 8.

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“I am not fully vaccinated, I’m not vaccinated,” he said. “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. 

“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 also has said he contracted COVID months ago. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew violated protocols by refusing to wear his mask, USOPC says

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