US swimmer Michael Andrew explains reason for skipping COVID-19 vaccine before Olympics

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American swimmer Michael Andrew raised eyebrows Thursday when he said it is unlikely he will get vaccinated before the Tokyo Olympics.

Andrew is expected to be a participant in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter individual medley. He admitted to reporters he had concerns over the potential impact of the vaccine’s side effects on his training.

“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,” he told reporters, via 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.

“But as far as that goes, 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. 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 won four gold medals in the 2018 World Championships and is expected to contend for gold in Tokyo.

Tokyo officials announced Thursday the games will be held without spectators as the city came under a new state of emergency over an uptick in reported coronavirus cases.

About 11,000 Olympians along with media and sponsors are set to descend on the country over the next few weeks. The International Olympic Committee said more than 80% of those living in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.

Only about 15% of Japanese residents are vaccinated, compared to about 48% in the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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