The USOPC said in July that around 83 percent of the 613 American competitors in the Tokyo Olympics were vaccinated, but there was no requirement. The International Olympic Committee has not announced whether vaccination will be a requirement for all athletes in Beijing, and its first “playbook” on health and other matters is expected next month.
“The stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over,” Sarah Hirshland, the USOPC’s CEO, wrote in a letter obtained by The Washington Post. “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 service to athletes.”
Roughly 240 athletes will compete in Beijing. In the days before and during the Tokyo Games, 28 athletes tested positive; the Paralympics had 13 positive tests. Golfer Bryson DeChambeau and swimmer Michael Andrew said before the Summer Games that they had not been vaccinated; DeChambeau missed the Games, testing positive just before flying to Japan. Andrew said he previously had covid-19.
The policy goes a step beyond those of North America’s major pro leagues, which do not require athletes to be vaccinated to compete.
Les Carpenter contributed to this report.