AceShowbiz - Team USA swimmer Michael Andrew received backlash for breaking the COVID-19 protocol at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The athlete was dragged for not wearing any face covering while speaking with reporters despite the fact that he has yet to be vaccinated.
"Michael Andrew, the highest-profile unvaccinated American Olympian, refused to wear a mask in the mixed zone," wrote USA Today Sports columnist Christine Brennan on Twitter on Friday, July 30. He also attached a picture of the 22-year-old being maskless in a press area before adding, "Every other U.S. swimmer I've seen all week has worn one."
Of not wearing a mask, Andrew told USA Today Sports, "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."
He added, "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."
Internet users quickly blasted Andrew with one saying, "Arrogant. I hoped his swim last night offered him a dish of humility, but now I wonder," referencing his fifth-place finish in the men's 200-meter individual medley earlier that day. "This is disgraceful! Vaccinations should have been required for all Olympians out of respect for the people of Japan, who have not been as fortunate with their vaccine rollout," another user added.
Further taking a dig at the swimmer, another person wrote, "No mask, no medal, Michael." Another comment, meanwhile, read, "Refuses to wear a shirt, too."
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee initially said in a statement that Andrew is in "violation of the COVID mitigation protocols." Despite that, the committee decided to not penalize the athlete for the violation.