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Team U.S.A. swimmer Michael Andrew, 22, is not going to be vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, he recently explained.
Andrew said he didn’t want to have to be forced to take days off from training if he were to get a reaction to the vaccine. As noted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — which underscored that the vaccines are safe — fever, chills, nausea, and muscle pain are some of the reported potential side effects from the jab.
“My reason behind it is I, 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,” the swimmer recently told reporters, according to Yahoo! Sports. “As an athlete on the elite level, everything we do is very calculated. For me in the training cycle, especially leading up to trials, I didn’t want to risk any days out, because we do know that there are periods where, getting the vaccine, you have to deal with some days off.”
Andrew also emphasized that he’s taking all the necessary precautions to avoid the virus, like social distancing and masking — a requirement on Team U.S.A.
“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 the 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,” Andrew added.
Notably, athletes face removal from the Games if they test positive for the virus.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Andrew became a swimmer to watch when he outperformed at the Olympic trials last month:
The 22-year-old swimmer qualified for the Olympics in the 200-meter individual medley, 100-meter breaststroke and 50-meter freestyle, winning the first two events. In fact, he posted the fastest time seen in five years in the 200 IM, flirting with world record pace until the final 50 meters:
Andrew currently stands as the gold medal favorite in the 200 IM, and figures to be a medal contender in both of the other individual events for which he’s qualified. As the country’s top breaststroker and a capable freestyle sprinter, he could also see some usage on the United States’ relay teams.
Last month, the NFL’s Cole Beasley publicly pushed back against the apparent two sets of protocols in the league for vaccinated and unvaccinated players, noting that he has no plans to take the jab.
The Buffalo Bills wide receiver wrote in a lengthy Twitter message that many other less-established players feel the same way he does, but do not feel they are in a position to make a public challenge. “I feel for you, and I hope I’m doing my part to represent you guys,” he said.