Olympic Committee Says Swimmer Michael Andrew Did Not Violate Rules By Going Maskless

Team USA swimmer Michael Andrew, who previously disclosed he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, told reporters it's "pretty hard to breathe" in a mask following the 200-meter individual medley.

By McKenna Aiello Jul 30, 2021 11:16 PMTags
Watch: 2020 Tokyo Olympics: By the Numbers

Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew found himself in hot water after deciding against wearing a mask while speaking to reporters on Friday, July 20. 

According to the Associated Press, via NBC News, 22-year-old Andrew was noticeably maskless when he stopped to talk to press after finishing fifth in the men's 200-meter individual medley. While it's noted by the AP that "most swimmers" wear masks outside the pool, and media and other employees are required to wear them inside the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Andrew said he struggles to breathe under a face covering. 

"For me," he explained to reporters, "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."

The San Diego native, who has publicly said he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, continued, "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." 

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With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Tokyo, Andrew's choice to go maskless has spurred criticism. When contacted by USA Today Sports, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee first said in part, "Not wearing a mask is a violation of the COVID mitigation protocols put in place by both the USOPC and TOCOG."

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

However, after reviewing the Games Playbook, the USOPC determined he was not in violation of the rules. 

Per the AP, their statement read, "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."

Prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympics, Andrew told the press he would not get the COVID-19 vaccine because he "didn't want to put anything in my body that I didn't know how I would potentially react to."

On July 23, the USOPC's medical chief said that approximately 100 of the 613 U.S. athletes competing in Tokyo were not vaccinated. 

Learn more about Andrew and his fellow swimming teammates in our gallery below: 

Caeleb Dressel

Age: 24

Hometown: Green Cove Springs, Florida

Events: 50 meter freestyle; 100 meter freestyle; 100 meter butterfly

Prior Olympic Victories: Rio 2016; two gold medals

Simone Manuel

Age: 24

Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

Events: 50 meter freestyle

Prior Olympic Victories: Rio 2016; two gold, two silver medals

Tom Shields

Age: 29

Hometown: Huntington Beach, California

Events: 100 meter butterfly

Prior Olympic Victories: Rio 2016; one gold medal

Katie Ledecky

Age: 24

Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland

Events: 200 meter freestyle; 400 meter freestyle; 800 meter freestyle; 1,500 meter freestyle

Prior Olympic Victories: London 2012; one gold medal; Rio 2016; 4 gold, one silver medal

Bobby Finke

Age: 21

Hometown: Clearwater, Florida

Events: 800 meter freestyle; 1,500 meter freestyle

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Katie Grimes

Age: 15

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada 

Events: 800 meter freestyle

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Ryan Murphy

Age: 25

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Events: 100 meter backstroke; 200 meter backstroke

Prior Olympic Victories: Rio 2016; three gold medals

Emma Weyant

Age: 19

Hometown: Sarasota, Florida

Events: 400 meter individual medley 

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Townley Haas

Age: 24

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Events: 200 meter freestyle

Prior Olympic Victories: Rio 2016; one gold medal

Allison Schmitt

Age: 31

Hometown: Canton, Michigan

Events: 200 meter freestyle; 4x100 freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Beijing 2008; one bronze medal, London 2012; three gold, one silver, one bronze medal, Rio 2016; one gold, one silver medal

Andrew Seliskar

Age: 24

Hometown: McLean, Virginia

Events: 4x200 freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Ashley Twichell

Age: 32

Hometown: Fayetteville, New York 

Events: 10 kilometer open water swim

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Drew Kibler

Age: 21

Hometown: Carmel, Indiana

Events: 4x200 freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Lydia Jacoby

Age: 17

Hometown: Seward, Alaska

Events: 100 meter breastroke

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Jake Mitchell

Age: 19

Hometown: Carmel, Indiana

Events: 400 meter freestyle

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Bella Sims

Age: 16

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Events: 4x200 meter freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Kieran Smith

Age: 21

Hometown: Ridgefield, Connecticut

Events: 200 meter freestyle; 400 meter freestyle 

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Paige Madden

Age: 22

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Events: 400 meter freestyle; 4x200 freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Bowe Becker

Age: 23

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Events: 4x100 meter freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Brooke Forde

Age: 22

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

Events: 4x200 meter freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Patrick Callan

Age: 21

Hometown: Owasso, Oklahoma

Events: 4x200 meter freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Erica Sullivan

Age: 20

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Events: 1,500 meter freestyle

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Michael Andrew

Age: 22

Hometown: Encinitas, California

Events: 50 meter freestyle; 100 meter breastroke; 200 meter individual medley

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Catie Deloof

Age: 24

Hometown: Grosse Point, Michigan

Events: 4x100 meter freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Jordan Wilimovsky

Age: 27

Hometown: Malibu, California

Events: 10 kilometer open water event

Prior Olympic Victories: Rio 2016; no medals

Regan Smith

Age: 19

Hometown: Lakeville, Minnesota 

Events: 100 meter backstroke; 200 meter butterfly

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Jay Litherland

Age: 25

Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia

Events: 400 meter individual medley

Prior Olympic Victories: Rio 2016; no medals

Natalie Hinds

Age: 27

Hometown: Midland, Texas

Events: 4x100 meter freestyle relay

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Andrew Wilson

Age: 27

Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland

Events: 100 meter breastroke; 200 meter breastroke

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

Hunter Armstrong

Age: 20

Hometown: Dover, Ohio

Events: 100 meter backstroke

Prior Olympic Victories: Rookie

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