An argument is developing between Maya DiRado, a former gold medalist, and some American swimmers about U.S. Medal Threat Michael Andrew’s decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19 as he prepares for the Tokyo Olympics.
This week, DiRado ignited the conversation with a long thread on Twitter where she stated that she was “disappointed” by Andrew’s decision not to be vaccinated and his reasoning.
Andrew stated earlier this month, that he hasn’t been vaccinated. This was after he was asked by a reporter about his situation.
He explained that he did it because he was unsure how he would react to it.
“As elite athletes, every move we make is carefully planned and understood. In the preparation cycle, particularly leading up to trials I didn’t want any days off. You had to deal with days off after you took a vaccine.
Andrew stated that he does not plan to get vaccinated in future.
He said that he felt very secure and protected, citing daily testing during the Olympics.
The Tokyo Olympic organizers and International Olympic Committee did not require athletes to have a vaccine in order to participate. Only 20% of Japan’s population are fully vaccinated. The IOC reported 13 positive cases in Japan among all athletes.
According to the U.S. Olympic Paralympic Committee’s medical chief, about 100 of the 613 U.S. Olympic athletes in Tokyo were not vaccinated. Andrew is the only swimmer from the U.S. to reveal publicly that he has not been vaccinated.
DiRado wrote, “That Michael would make any decision that could put even a little bit of risk on his fellow athletes for his own perceived wellbeing frustrates me.” After the Rio Games 2016, she retired as one of three representative athletes on USA Swimming’s Board of Directors. She won four medals and two golds.
All of the top Americans, including Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky as well as Lilly King, Simone Manuel, have declared that they are fully vaccinated.
Anthony Ervin, a former gold medalist, tweeted to DiRado saying that Andrew had COVID-19 and “so has a natural immunity.”
Andrew’s teammate Tom Shields criticised DiRado for his stance.
Shields tweeted, “What part that responsibility involves shaming an Olympian’s (sic), on the eve competition?”
Andrew was dominant at the U.S. trials last week with impressive times in qualifying to the 100-meter breaststroke and 200 individual medley, as well as 50 freestyle. This earned him his first Olympic berth.
Encinitas resident, a 22-year old swimmer, made waves in the sport at age 14, when he became a professional. Peter is his father and he trains him using an unconventional method called Ultra Short Race Pace Training. This involves swimming at your target race pace, or faster in practice. It does not include drills, kicks or other technique-based work. Tina, his mother, acts as his agent.
“We chose a route. Andrew stated that we have always taken pride in this. “It’s cool to finally reach this point, and for people see that all those hard years and the fact we can do it differently make sense.
It was surprising that there was so much online bickering. American swimmers are known for presenting a positive, united front at the Games. They emphasize team success and not individual achievement.
Patrick Callan, a teammate, tweeted that Michael is free to make his own decisions. He is still doing all in the best interests of this team.