US athletes MUST have Covid vaccine to compete at 2022 Winter Olympics

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American athletes trying to make the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will have to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 under a new policy announced Wednesday by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

In a letter obtained by Dailymail.com, CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote that all staff, athletes and others that want to utilize USOPC training centers and other facilities will have to be vaccinated from November 1.

According to the team website, athletes will have to show proof of vaccination by December 1 if they want to join the Team USA delegation in Beijing. 

The requirement, she said, ‘will also apply to our full Team USA delegation at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.’ 

The U.S. is expected to send around 240 athletes to the Winter Olympics, though the mandate will impact hundreds more — anyone with hopes of making the final squad.

The International Olympic Committee has been encouraging vaccines but did not require them for athletes who competed in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this summer. 

With that guidance, most national Olympic committees, including the USOPC, followed suit by strongly recommending the vaccines but not requiring them. 

The IOC’s first ‘Playbook,’ a booklet offering health-related and other guidance for the Winter Games, is due out next month.

Around 83 percent of the more than 600 American athletes who qualified for this summer’s Tokyo games got the shots, according to the USOPC’s final count. 

The IOC estimated about 85 percent of all athletes in the Olympic village had been vaccinated.

There were some Americans, including golfer Bryson DeChambeau and swimmer Michael Andrew, who spoke openly about not receiving shots. 

DeChambeau ended up testing positive shortly before he was supposed to head to Japan and missed the games, while Andrew said he had contracted COVID-19 previously and didn’t plan to get vaccinated.

In her letter Hirshland said the USOPC had been hopeful that many COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted by the end of the Tokyo Games, but in reality the pandemic is ‘far from over.’

‘The stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over,’ she wrote. ‘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.’

© Provided by Daily Mail Golfer Bryson DeChambeau tested positively for COVID-19 before the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, forcing him to sit out of the quadrennial sports competition
© Provided by Daily Mail (

Hirshland said there would be a process for athletes to apply for an exemption, including for religious and medical reasons. 

The move has the support of the Athletes’ Advisory Council and National Governing Bodies Council, she said, which was further reinforced by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine and the recent mandates by the U.S. federal government. 

The USOPC policy veers from those at other American sports organizations, including the NFL and NBA, which don’t have mandates. 

Neither does the NHL, though it has strict protocols for unvaccinated players, including stipulations that allow teams to suspend unvaccinated players if they miss games due to COVID-19 or travel restrictions related to the virus.

The NHL has an agreement to allow some of its players to compete in the Olympics.

The 2022 Winter Games in Beijing are scheduled to begin on February 4, followed by the start of the Paralympics on March 4. 

Like this summer’s Games, the Winter Olympics will be broadcast by NBC, which has covered every Olympics since 1998.

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