Team USA's vaccination rates are in — here's what we learned

·Yahoo Sports Columnist
·2 min read

TOKYO — During Friday media availability with other top members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, chief medical officer Dr. Jonathan Finnoff said 83 percent of Team USA members who had submitted their health history forms in advance of arrival in Japan said they were fully vaccinated against COVID.

Just under 600 athletes had submitted their history, according to Finnoff. The U.S. Olympic contingent numbers 613 officially.

Doing the math, that means there are around 100 members who are not vaccinated. Swimmer Michael Andrews has been getting a lot of criticism for admitting he isn't, but clearly he's far from the only one. And that's assuming all of the athletes who said they are vaccinated are being honest.

Finnoff called 83 percent "a substantial number, we're quite happy with that."

It would be a good number for the American public at large. But these Olympics are being held under extraordinary circumstances, with a good percentage — over three-quarters, according to a poll earlier this month — of the people in Japan opposing them being held because of COVID fears. The country is currently seeing another surge in cases.

Everyone here is still masked, indoors and outdoors. We're still being encouraged to keep distance from others and undergo daily temperature checks, and those associated with the Games must submit frequent saliva samples for testing.

And dozens of people around the Games, including 19 more on Friday, have tested positive, which triggers a quarantine. One American beach volleyball player, Taylor Crabb, has already been ruled out of the Olympics and replaced. 

Getting the vaccine doesn't prevent you from getting COVID, but it greatly reduces the chance that you will, and if you do, you won't get nearly as sick as if you don't. Data shows that nearly all of the people currently hospitalized and dying in the United States are unvaccinated, according to the AP.

Unvaccinated athletes aren't just jeopardizing their own health and competition status, they are putting everyone they come into contact with in danger. Some of them will have roommates while here in Tokyo, and imagine the fury if a close contact misses their opportunity to compete because a roommate tests positive.

One other concerning comment from Finnoff on Friday: He stressed that 83 percent number is only athletes. The USOPC does not ask staff for "private health information" so it's unknown how many staff — hundreds more people, from coaches to physiotherapists to public relations crew and more — are or aren't vaccinated, adding another layer of unnecessary risk.

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