USOPC asks athletes to get fully vaccinated for Winter Olympics
Logo of 2022 Winter Olympic Games seen in Beijing, China. /CFP

Logo of 2022 Winter Olympic Games seen in Beijing, China. /CFP

U.S. athletes will need to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before departing to attend the Winter Olympic Games in 2022 in China, announced the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) on Wednesday.

Team staff and others will be using training centers to get inoculated by USOPC's CEO Sarah Hirshland in a letter to the Associated Press.

Hirshland said the new public policy "will also apply to our full Team USA delegation at future Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Team USA will send about 240 athletes to the 2022 Winter Olympics and hundreds of coaches and staff. These people must show proof of vaccination before December 1.

A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. /CFP

A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. /CFP

Some 83 percent of the 600+athlete American squad for the Tokyo Olympics were vaccinated against the coronavirus, revealed the USOPC. However, that was a bit lower than the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s estimate (85 percent) of the general inoculation rate of athletes in Tokyo.

The IOC did not require athletes to get vaccinated for the Olympic Games. Instead, they recommended it in their playbook for Tokyo 2020. Most national Olympic committees, including the USOPC, followed suit.
The USOPC had been expecting COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted after the Tokyo Games, according to Hirshland. But, unfortunately, reality did not go as per her plans.

"The stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over. 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," wrote the USOPC CEO in her letter.

There will be a process for athletes to apply for vaccination exemption, according to Hirshland.

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