Michael Andrew, the 2016 world champion in the 100-meter individual medley, has not received the COVID-19 vaccine and does not plan on receiving it in time for the Tokyo Olympics, he said during a pre-Olympics USA Swimming news conference in Honolulu on Thursday.
"I am not vaccinated. My reason behind it is -- for one, it was in the last moment I didn't want to put anything in my body that I didn't know how I would potentially react to," Andrew said, adding later that he does not plan on getting the vaccine in the distant future. "As an athlete on the elite level, everything we do is very calculated, for me in the training cycles and especially at trials, I didn't want to risk any days out, because there are periods where if you take a vaccine, you have to deal with some days off."
Andrew, 22, is representing the United States in his first Olympics in the 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter individual medley and 50-meter freestyle. He said he has been following the same protocols as everybody else on Team USA during training camp in Hawaii.
"Lots of testing, masks, socially distanced -- obviously staying away from the crowds, everything like that," he said.
He also added that he will follow the same protocols in Tokyo, including testing every day.
"We feel very safe and protected knowing that we are minimizing risks as much as possible," Andrew said.
Though the IOC has encouraged vaccinations, there is no vaccination mandate for anyone attending the Olympics. The IOC's playbook outlines COVID-19 regulations: wearing masks, avoiding public transportation and minimizing physical interactions. The organizers will provide vehicles to shuttle athletes and their teams to and from the Olympic village.
Andrew's comments come on the heels of Japan declaring a state of emergency on July 8 due to rising coronavirus infections in Tokyo. The country has seen the most COVID-19 cases in two months. The emergency will be in effect from Monday, July 12, through Aug. 22, which means the entirety of the Olympics will be held under emergency guidelines.
Fans -- domestic or foreign -- will not be allowed for the Games.
Andrew added that he does not plan on getting the vaccine in the "distant future."