Vaccination required for Team USA athletes

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee will require athletes hoping to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 1.

USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland announced the new policy Wednesday. It also applies to coaches, staffers and all other members of the Team USA delegation headed to Beijing for the Games.

The International Olympic Committee did not mandate vaccination for the Tokyo Olympics this past summer, and has not indicated that it will introduce a mandate for Beijing. The USOPC also did not require Summer Olympic athletes to be vaccinated, and dozens competed in Tokyo while unvaccinated.

But the USOPC said in an internal document Tuesday that it is “adopting this COVID-19 vaccination requirement to safeguard the health of our athletes, team members, coaches, trainers, contractors, vendors, and any others visiting USOPC facilities, attending internally managed sport activities, and joining USOPC delegations to international sport events.”

“As of November 1, 2021,” the document reads, delegation members “are required to (1) be fully vaccinated in accordance with current CDC guidelines and definitions, and (2) submit documentation of such vaccination to the USOPC, or secure an approved exemption.”

The USOPC says it will grant “exemption from the vaccine requirement for a legitimate medical reason or because of a sincerely held religious belief.”

The document, though, indicates that unvaccinated athletes who receive an exemption could be subject to increased testing or other strict protocols. Without an exemption, they would not be allowed to attend the Games.