Unvaccinated U.S. swimmer defends going maskless in Olympic media zone

·3 min read
Michael Andrew, a U.S. swimming star who chose to not get vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo Games, refused to wear a mask during his last post-race interview. (Twitter/cbrennansports)
Michael Andrew, a U.S. swimming star who chose to not get vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo Games, refused to wear a mask during his last post-race interview. (Twitter/cbrennansports)

American swimmer Michael Andrew is no stranger to making headlines for his actions outside the pool.

Heading into the Tokyo Games, the 22-year-old found his name circulating because of his decision not to get vaccinated before heading to Japan. 

On Friday, Andrew found himself a central talking point amongst the media once again, this time for his decision not to wear a mask as he conducted a post-race interview.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

When asked why he chose to disobey the mandatory mask rule — one that every one of his USA swimming teammates has followed thus far — Andrew said it simply came down to what was best for his own “health.”

“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,” the swimmer said

“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."

With a mask sitting on the table in front of him, the controversial interview was conducted on the heels of Andrew finishing two spots off the podium in the 200-metre individual medley.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) initially released a statement saying that they would “take action as needed.”

However, after taking time to thoroughly review the incident, the USOPC backtracked, concluding that Andrew did not actually break any rules since athletes are allowed to be maskless during interviews in the mixed zones.

"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 USOPC said in a statement to USA Today.

It has been a disappointing start to the Games for the up-and-coming youngster, as he has failed to medal in either of his first two events — the 200-metre medley and 100-metre breaststroke. 

He did lead for the first 150 metres of the 200-metre medley, but then lost a tremendous amount of ground to the field in the last 50, and ended up fifth.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Andrew came into the event with the fastest time in the world this year but posted a time a full two seconds slower in Tokyo.

More from Yahoo Sports

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting