Gold medalist calls out swimmer Michael Andrew’s decision not to vaccinate
Andrew holds the top seed in the 200-meter individual medley, one of three events in which he is a medal contender during the swimming competition that starts Saturday.
The 22-year-old from Encinitas is the best-known member of the U.S. team to disclose his decision to not take the vaccine.
DiRado, who won four swimming medals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, responded this week to comments Andrew made in an interview with the Fox Business Network, in which he said he is “representing my country in multiple ways and the freedoms we have to make a decision” to spurn vaccination.
“First, I wish he’d think harder about what he’s proud to represent,” DiRado wrote on Twitter. “Team USA loves to say that we represent the best country in the world. There are a number of plausible reasons one could give for that, and freedom to not get vaccinated seems to be high for him. Ok. But what about the fact that American scientists helped bring the best vaccines to market fastest? And the fact that while much of the world desperately wants vaccines, the US has made them freely available to any citizen who wants one? I’m proud I represented that flag.”
She added: “That Michael would make a decision that puts even a bit of risk on his teammates for his own perceived well-being frustrates me.”
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Several other high-profile U.S. swimmers like Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel have been vaccinated. During the swimming trials last month, Dressel joked that he’s on “Team Moderna.” Andrew has taken a different path.
“I didn’t want to put anything in my body I didn’t know how I would potentially react to,” Andrew said at a news conference this month during the team’s training camp in Hawaii. “As an athlete on the elite level, everything you do is very calculated. For me in the training cycle ... I didn’t want to risk any days out. We did know there were periods where you take the vaccine and you have to deal with some days off.”
Andrew said he had COVID-19 in December and recovered “very easily” and with “no issues.”
During the Fox Business interview, Andrew told host Stuart Varney that he’s not opposed to vaccines and doesn’t take the situation lightly, but not getting this vaccine is “something I’m willing to stand for.”
Athletes at the Games are subject to a variety of virus-related precautions, including daily testing, mask-wearing and plastic dividers in the dining hall. The International Olympic Committee estimated last month that 80% of athletes have been vaccinated.
Andrew’s first individual swim is Saturday in the 100 breaststroke. He set the American record in the event last month but is the underdog against world record holder Adam Peaty from Britain.
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