American swimmer Michael Andrew, who is a legitimate gold medal contender in several events at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, made headlines last week when he told reporters that he hadn't gotten the COVID-19 vaccine and had no plans to do so in the immediate or "distant" future.
With the opening ceremony less than 10 days away, Andrew defended his decision in an appearance on Fox Business, saying that he's concerned about how his body will react to it so close to the Olympics.
Andrew not willing to jeopardize preparation
"I'm an elite athlete. Everything we take and put in our body is very calculated. You know, with the period going into Olympic trials, I didn't want to risk any time out of the pool. And the fact that the effectiveness of the vaccine is lower than the risk of me getting COVID, I just realized it wasn't quite necessary and wasn't smart on my part in terms of preparation going into the games."
American Olympians aren't required to be vaccinated. While Andrew said he didn't want to "risk" missing any prep days leading up to the Olympics, remaining unvaccinated carries a lot of risk, especially with COVID-19 cases rising in Tokyo. If he tests positive, he could be removed from his events.
"That's a risk I'm willing to take," Andrew said. "Obviously there's fear involved and there's nerves behind the decision," Andrew said.
Andrew insists he's not anti-vax
Andrew's decision to eschew the vaccine has earned him a lot of criticism on social media, especially since it's been proven safe and effective. Despite the fact that Andrew has said that he doesn't plan to get the vaccine in even the "distant future," he told Fox Business that he doesn't consider himself to be anti-vax.
"We aren't anti-vax. It's not that we're doing this intentionally," Andrew said. "It's an educated decision as educated as possible. But this is the first time I really received, I guess, like hate messages kind of things. It's been pretty interesting."
Andrew believes his ability to abstain from vaccination is a true representation of the privilege of America.
"Going to the games not only unvaccinated, but as an American, I'm representing my country in multiple ways and the freedoms we have to make a decision like that," he said.
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