USOPC Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination for American 2022 Winter Olympians

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee will require all 2022 Olympians and Olympic hopefuls to be fully vaccinated, it announced on Wednesday.

Starting Nov. 1, the governing body will require “employees, athletes, contractors and others to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19” to access facilities, including the Olympic and Paralympic training centers (athletes will be able to apply for a medical or religious exemption). The requirement will also apply to the full Team USA delegation at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Olympic hopefuls will have to show proof of vaccination by Dec. 1. Anyone who receives an exemption will be required to undergo daily COVID testing for any days they are accessing a USOPC facility or representing Team USA at a delegation event like the Olympics.

About 83% of the 600-plus American athletes at the Tokyo Olympics were vaccinated, according to the USOPC, and the International Olympic Committee estimated that 85% of all athletes staying in the Olympic village were vaccinated. About 240 American athletes are expected to compete at the Beijing Games.

Ahead of the Tokyo Games, a few prominent American athletes revealed they were not vaccinated, including swimmer Michael Andrew. Andrew said that he had previously contracted COVID-19 and that he “didn’t want to put anything in my body that I didn’t know how I would potentially react to.”

The IOC did not require vaccines for Tokyo, but strongly encouraged them, and many NOCs followed suit.

“The stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a letter obtained by the Associated Press. “This step will increase our ability to create a safe and productive environment for Team USA athletes and staff, and allow us to restore consistency in planning, preparation and service to athletes.”