U.S. swimmer Michael Andrew ruffled the feathers of several social media users on Friday after it was revealed that he went maskless for a post-race interview at the Olympics.
Andrew, who told the press earlier this month that he refused to take any of the coronavirus vaccines ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, appeared on Friday without a mask in the mixed zone where reporters speak to athletes, according to NBC News.
“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,” Andrew said of his decision to forego a face mask.
“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,” he added.
Andrew’s defense for going maskless was not enough, however, for many social media users.
“Swimmer Michael Andrew proved the worst American stereotype when he refused to wear a mask (and refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19) during interviews,” wrote USA Today opinion columnist Michael Stern.
Swimmer Michael Andrew proved the worst American stereotype when he refused to wear a mask (and refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19) during interviews.https://t.co/5imxRMheQq
— Michael J. Stern (@MichaelJStern1) July 30, 2021
“Not only did he decline #vaccination which could not just protect him and his teammates, but now he is not following mitigation protocols as well,” said Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease specialist. “Michael Andrew may be an Olympian, but he doesn’t seem like the most caring teammate.”
Not only did he decline #vaccination which could not just protect him and his teammates, but now he is not following mitigation protocols as well.
Michael Andrew may be an Olympian, but he doesn’t seem like the most caring teammate https://t.co/WUWA3cfJ5z
— Krutika Kuppalli, MD FIDSA (@KrutikaKuppalli) July 30, 2021
“Michael Andrew, the highest profile unvaccinated American Olympian, refused to wear a mask in the mixed zone,” noted Christine Brennan, a USA Today columnist. “Every other US swimmer I’ve seen all week has worn one.”
Michael Andrew, the highest profile unvaccinated American Olympian, refused to wear a mask in the mixed zone. Every other US swimmer I’ve seen all week has worn one. pic.twitter.com/xwVFJGpkmL
— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) July 30, 2021
“The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee had a chance to take a stand against the arrogant behavior of unmasked and unvaccinated Michael Andrew,” Brennan added in another tweet. “Instead, it gave in to his selfishness.”
“Just keep thinking about unvaccinated Michael Andrew refusing to wear a mask when talking to media, as reported by @cbrennansports,” wrote Maggie Hendricks, a writer for Bally Sports. “At trials, I had to show proof of my vax and get tested every four days and wear a mask in every press conference.”
“And I did it, and every media member did it as did the volunteers and coaches and staff, because a month before the Olympics, keeping the athletes safe is paramount. And we all got that,” Hendricks added.
— Maggie Hendricks (@maggiehendricks) July 30, 2021
Hendricks went on to conclude that Andrew should not be treated differently, saying “no exception should be made for Michael Andrew.”
It didn’t end there.
Hey @SwimmerMichael way disrespect the rules and the ghost country. You can choose to not vax.. But not wearing a mask where is required to protect yourself and others is disgusting. You should be punished. #TokyoOlympics #shameful @USASwimming @iocmedia @Tokyo2020 https://t.co/s21Rn51DjX
— 💙 StevenSensei 💙 (@StevenSenseiHS) July 30, 2021
Also eff #michaelandrew he’s not vaccinated and won’t wear a mask in the interview zone. We have athletes dropping out almost daily because of COVID infections. I hope he loses every race. How dare he put other people’s health at risk like that.
— Denise Huxtable (@KristalClear2me) July 30, 2021
Unlike the GOP, I don’t relish in rooting against Americans at the Olympics, but learning Michael Andrew is unvaxxed, and refused to wear a mask in the interview zone, endangering other athletes, coaches, and media, makes me able to say: his final 50m collapse was hilarious.
— Scott Six (@scottsix) July 30, 2021
USA Today’s Nancy Armour took exception to the USOPC saying that Andrew didn’t violate any mask rules.
USOPC now says Michale Andrew doesn’t need to wear a mask in mixed zone. Sure, Jan. https://t.co/TGEwk4I3oG
— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) July 30, 2021
The Chicago Tribune’s Kevin Williams had thoughts.
— Kevin Williams (@TribuneKevin) July 30, 2021