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US mandates vaccines for 2022 Winter Olympic team

/ 05:01 PM September 23, 2021
Beijing Olympics

FILE PHOTO: The lit-up Olympic rings at top of the Olympic Tower in Beijing, China February 4, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

US athletes taking part in the Beijing Winter Olympics next year must be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to guidelines released by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee on Wednesday.

The USOPC rules state that as of November 1, all employees, athletes, contractors and others accessing USOPC facilities must be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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By December 1, the mandate will be extended to include all Team USA delegations members or hopefuls for future games.

“The health and well-being of our Olympic and Paralympic community continues to be a top priority,” the guidelines said.

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“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 optimal service to athletes.”

At the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, the USOPC stopped short of mandating COVID-19 vaccines for its members.

Around 100 of the 613-athlete US team traveled to Japan without being vaccinated.

They included US swimmer Michael Andrew, who was criticized during the Games after failing to wear a facemask during interactions with the media.

Former US Olympic swimmer Maya DiRado accused Andrew of endangering teammates by refusing to get vaccinated.

The International Olympic Committee has also not issued a vaccine mandate for athletes taking part in its events.

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The USOPC said it would consider exemptions to the mandate on a case-by-case basis.

Unvaccinated individuals who receive an exemption will be required to undergo daily COVID-19 testing, which will be paid for by the USOPC.

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