On Wednesday, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced that American athletes trying to make the Winter Olympics will be required to be fully vaccinated. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote starting November 1st, the USOPC will require all staff, athletes and others even using training centers and any USOPC facilities, to be fully vaccinated.
The requirement “will also apply to our full Team USA delegation at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.” The International Olympic Committee had encouraged vaccines but did not required them for athletes competing in the Summer Olympics.
The Associated Press writes, “According to the team website, athletes will have to show proof of vaccination by Dec. 1. The U.S. is expected to send around 240 athletes to the Winter Olympics, though the mandate will impact hundreds more — anyone with hopes of making the final squad.”
“The stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over,” wrote Hirshland. “This step will increase our ability to create a safe and productive environment for Team USA athletes and staff, and allow us to restore consistency in planning, preparation and service to athletes.”
Hirshland did note that a process will be in place for athletes to attempt to apply for an exemption. The policy could cause complications considering it is a change in policy from other American sports organizations which don’t have mandates and could have unvaccinated athletes wanting to participate in the Olympic games.
The Associated Press reports:
Earlier this year, around 83% of the more than 600 American athletes who qualified for Tokyo got the shots in time for the Summer Games, according to the USOPC’s final count. The IOC estimated about 85% of all athletes in the Olympic village had been vaccinated.
There were some Americans, including golfer Bryson DeChambeau and swimmer Michael Andrew, who spoke openly about not receiving shots. DeChambeau ended up testing positive shortly before he was supposed to head to Japan and missed the games, while Andrew said he had contracted COVID-19 previously and didn’t plan to get vaccinated.
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