US swimmer Andrew goes maskless behind scenes at Olympics

Jul 29, 2021, 2:24 PM | Updated: Jul 30, 2021, 2:48 am

TOKYO (AP) — Michael Andrew, who made waves for saying he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19, didn’t wear a mask behind the scenes after swimming his final at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

The 22-year-old American was maskless when he stopped to speak with reporters in the mixed zone, an area where journalists interview athletes after events.

Most swimmers wear face coverings outside of the pool, while media and workers are required to don face coverings at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. But the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Andrew didn’t violate COVID-19 protocol, because athletes are allowed to remove masks during interviews in the mixed zone, even though most keep their masks on.

Asked why he wasn’t wearing a mask, Andrew said, “For me, it’s pretty hard to breathe in after kind of sacrificing my body in the water, so I feel like my health is a little more tied to being able to breathe than protecting what’s coming out of my mouth.”

Andrew finished fifth in the 200-meter individual medley. He was to return Friday night to swim in the 50 free preliminaries.

“I think it’s great that there’s procedures but at the end of the day, all of us here have been under quarantine and in the same testing protocol, so there’s a level of safety that’s comfortable when we’re racing,” he said.

The Tokyo organizing committee’s policy states that following a competition all athletes must wear masks, but that masks can be removed during media interviews in the mixed zone.

The USOOC said after talking to Andrew and reviewing the Games Playbook, they determined he wasn’t violating the policy.

“Michael has been reminded of the Games policy and established COVID mitigation protocols, and has acknowledged the importance of following all guidelines intended to keep athletes and the community safe,” the USOOC said in a statement.

While there’s been a raging debate in the U.S. about wearing masks, nearly everyone on the streets of Tokyo wears face coverings. Coronavirus infection cases have reached daily records in Tokyo, and the Japanese government has declared the capital and several other regions under a state of emergency during the games.

Andrew was already under scrutiny for his decision not to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

“My reason behind it is, for one, it was kind of a last moment, I didn’t want to put anything in my body that I didn’t know how I would potentially react to,” Andrew said during a pre-Olympic training camp in Hawaii this month.

“As an athlete on the elite level, everything we do is very calculated and understood. For me, in the training cycle, especially leading up to trials, I didn’t want to risk any days out. There were periods where you take a vaccine, you have to deal with some days off.”

Andrew has said he has no plans to be vaccinated in the future.

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo walks during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal a...
Associated Press

Ronaldo loses Portugal spot to sully World Cup journey

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — So, the dream is still alive for Cristiano Ronaldo. Soccer’s most prolific modern-day scorer might yet, at the age of 37 and probably playing in his last World Cup, claim the one major title to elude him in a career like no other. It didn’t quite feel that way, though, as […]
1 day ago
Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka, right, and Switzerland's midfielder Denis Zakaria, left, rea...
Associated Press

Switzerland falls again to first World Cup knockout punch

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Switzerland exited the World Cup at the round of 16 stage, just as it usually does in the modern era. A 6-1 rout by Portugal on Tuesday left little space for feeling that progress was made, even if the squad was hit by a bout of sickness in Qatar. Switzerland’s quest […]
1 day ago
Morocco's head coach Walid Regragui is thrown in the air at the end of the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

The next World Cup will jump to 48 teams. Is bigger better?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The next World Cup will be the biggest ever after world soccer body FIFA took the leap from a 32-team field to 48 teams in 2026. It means more of soccer’s so-called “little teams” that didn’t make it to Qatar will be given a chance of a lifetime when the tournament […]
1 day ago
A sunken vehicle sit in the Mesaieed sea-line at the GMC dive site in Mesaieed, Qatar Wednesday, No...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup fans explore Qatar’s artificial reefs

MESAIEED, Qatar (AP) — Thirty feet (9 meters) deep into the waters of the Persian Gulf, angel fish swim in and out of rusted trucks and SUVs. Plastic bags and water bottles, blown in from the nearby shoreline, float across the ocean floor. World Cup fans in Qatar hoping to see some of the Gulf’s […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Cone scores 24 as Northern Arizona takes down Pacific 73-69

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Jalen Cole had 24 points in Northern Arizona’s 73-69 victory against Pacific on Tuesday. Cone shot 6 for 12 (3 for 4 from 3-point range) and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line for the Lumberjacks (4-7). Xavier Fuller scored 18 points and added 10 rebounds. Nik Mains recorded nine points […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Blackshear’s 22 help Nevada knock off Pepperdine 85-77

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — Kenan Blackshear had 22 points in Nevada’s 85-77 win against Pepperdine on Tuesday. Blackshear was 7 of 15 shooting, including 2 for 4 from distance, and went 6 for 7 from the line for the Wolf Pack (8-2). Jarod Lucas scored 18 points while going 5 of 10 from the floor, […]
1 day ago
US swimmer Andrew goes maskless behind scenes at Olympics