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Unvaccinated U.S. swimmer Michael Andrew's rooming situation unknown by head coach

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 7/22/2021 Christine Brennan, USA TODAY

TOKYO — The head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s swimming team said Thursday afternoon that he did not know about the Olympic Village living arrangements of Michael Andrew, the only U.S. swimmer to publicly announce that he is unvaccinated. 

Asked repeatedly by journalists in the mixed zone of the swimming venue whether the 22-year-old Andrew has his own room, Dave Durden was unable to answer.

“To be honest, I don’t even know if he’s in his own room or not,” Durden said with a laugh. “We have folks all over the place, etc. We are in suites as teams.”

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Pressed again on the topic, Durden said, “I can look at our rooming list and see where he is in the Village, but, with that being said, I feel very comfortable about what he’s doing, where he’s at, how he’s operating.”

Durden said the U.S. coaching staff wants Andrew and the athletes around him to “feel safe, feel good about what we’re doing with our precautions as we go from here to the Village to the dining hall to the buses. It is a team thing that we’re really supporting each other on and Michael is no different in that regard.”

a person swimming in blue water: Michael Andrew during the men's 100m breaststroke final. © Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports Michael Andrew during the men's 100m breaststroke final.

Andrew, the American record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke who will swim multiple events at these Games, became the biggest Olympic name to reveal that he has not been vaccinated when he said two weeks ago that he didn’t want taking the vaccine to interfere with his training schedule.

As an unvaccinated athlete in the midst of a locked-down Olympic Games, Andrews’ status could present problems for the U.S. Olympic team in the event of a COVID scare or outbreak, or contact tracing during the Games. Considerations are expected to be made for vaccinated Olympians in those cases, but not for the unvaccinated.

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Both Andrew and his mother have been quoted this year as saying he was not vaccinated and would not be, but he had not confirmed his status since making the Olympic team until he responded to a question from USA TODAY Sports during a USA Swimming media Zoom call July 8.

“I am not fully vaccinated, I’m not vaccinated,” he said. “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. 

“As an athlete on the elite level, everything you 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 said he contracted COVID months ago. 

At the U.S. Olympic Trials last month, Lindsay Mintenko, managing director of the U.S. national team, said Olympic COVID and contact tracing rules were “taking into consideration vaccination status.”

She said: “They aren’t going to automatically disqualify you if you are contact traced at this point (if an athlete has been vaccinated.) That was good news for us. I have a lot of concerns going into the next few weeks. The health and safety of our athletes is always our No. 1 priority. It takes on a whole new meaning this year.

“The virus is still here. It’s out there, and we’re going into an environment where we have no idea what the other population has been doing to protect themselves. That makes me nervous. We are going to do a lot to protect ourselves. But I’m nervous about what we’re going to walk into.”

Durden praised U.S. protocols Thursday. “We’ve been following the recommendations of our doctors, team physicians, USOPC physicians, and we feel 100 percent comfortable in how this process has played out, not only from Hawaii (the team’s training camp site) to Tokyo but here to the Village as well.”

At the trials, USA Swimming President and CEO Tim Hinchey estimated “around 90 percent of our national team had been vaccinated.” It’s unknown if any other U.S. Olympic swimmers are unvaccinated. Vaccines are not mandatory at the Olympic Games.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Unvaccinated U.S. swimmer Michael Andrew's rooming situation unknown by head coach


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