Roughly 100 unvaccinated American Olympians are participating in the Tokyo Games and a number of them have contracted the illness prior to the opening ceremonies as the pandemic looms large in the minds of competitors and attendees at the historic event.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced that approximately 100 of the 613 U.S. athletes in Tokyo are unvaccinated. USOPC medical director Dr. Jonathan Finnoff stated that 567 American Olympians have filled out their health histories and the majority of them claim they were vaccinated. He made the proclamation just hours before Friday night’s opening ceremony.
“Eighty-three percent is actually a substantial number and we’re quite happy with it,” Finnoff stated according to the Associated Press.
As far as the Olympic Village is concerned, the International Olympic Committee is estimating that approximately 85 percent of residents there are vaccinated. They are basing those numbers on reports from each participating country’s Olympic committee. The statistic has not been independently verified.
(Video Credit: HM Sports)
Finnoff went on to say that the U.S. would not discriminate in its treatment between athletes that have been vaccinated and those that haven’t.
“The best thing to do is to assume everyone’s at risk, and reduce risk by introducing COVID mitigation measures that we know work,” he advised.
Susanne Lyons is the new chair of the USOPC, Sarah Hirshland is the new CEO, and Rick Adams is the new chief of sports performance. All were in attendance for the announcement. They made it clear that they stood by their athlete’s constitutional right of free speech and freedom of choice.
At this point, only two Americans participating in the games have tested positive for COVID in Japan. One is beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb and the other is alternate gymnast Kara Eaker. The IOC has reported that there are 13 positives among all athletes in Japan. Participants are prohibited from hugging or shaking hands.
The games had previously been delayed for a year due to the pandemic. Organizers decided at the last minute to ban domestic fans from attending the Games out of an abundance of caution.
The USOPC has reportedly focused on deemphasizing the quest for medals and is instead focusing on athlete health and welfare. This has never been the case before the current Games. The U.S. has led in the medals count at every Summer Games since 1996 following the disbandment of the old Soviet Union team. However, medals are still the overriding goal.
“Is the U.S. coming here hoping to win a lot of medals? You bet we are,” Hirshland stated.
“Athletes have adjusted to being comfortable being uncomfortable,” Adams said in reference to the pandemic. “They’ve been experiencing it, and over the next 17 days, the expectation is to set expectations around things that could change.”
Japanese citizens have been protesting the Olympics fearing an outbreak of the pandemic after thousands have flooded into the country.
Lyons stated, “Really, the memory of this Game should not be that it was the COVID Games, it should be that it was a Games that really showed the world the resilience of humanity. That gave hope at a time when the entire world needs hope.”
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