U.S. swimmer Michael Andrew is raising eyebrows for refusing to wear a mask behind the scenes during the Olympics, a report says.
Andrew appeared without a mask in the mixed zone where reporters speak to athletes on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
The AP added that most athletes keep their masks on, often only removing them while engaged in an interview. Journalists are also required to wear masks even in the mixed zone unless on camera.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)
The 22-year-old swimmer, though, did not have a mask at all. Reporters asked Olympics officials about Andrew’s maskless visit to the mixed zone. Still, officials claimed that he was not violating any Olympics rules because athletes are permitted to go maskless in that area.
For his part, Andrew explained that he finds it hard to breathe with a mask on.
“For me, it’s pretty hard to breathe in after kind of sacrificing my body in the water, so I feel like my health is a little more tied to being able to breathe than protecting what’s coming out of my mouth,” he said.
“I think it’s great that there’s procedures, but at the end of the day, all of us here have been under quarantine and in the same testing protocol, so there’s a level of safety that’s comfortable when we’re racing,” Andrew added.
Even as the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee determined that Andrew did not violate the rules, it did note that he has been reminded about the rules.
“Michael has been reminded of the Games policy and established Covid mitigation protocol and has acknowledged the importance of following all guidelines intended to keep athletes and the community safe,” a statement from the USOPC said.
Andrew has also spoken out against taking the coronavirus vaccine and says he has no plans of taking any of them.
“My reason behind it is, 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,” Andrew said during training camp this month.
“As an athlete on the elite level, everything we do is very calculated and understood,” he concluded. “For me, in the training cycle, especially leading up to trials, I didn’t want to risk any days out. There were periods where you take a vaccine, you have to deal with some days off.”
Andrew finished fifth in the 200-meter individual medley on Thursday. He had finished second in the July 28 Semifinal and first in Heat 6 that same day. He will also compete in the 50 free preliminaries.
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