OLYMPICS

Team USA will require vaccinations for Winter Olympics hopefuls

CEO of the US Olympic and Paralymic Committee Sara Hirshland informed Winter Olympic hopefuls that COVID vaccinations will be required to compete in 2022.

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Team USA will require vaccinations for Winter Olympics hopefuls
TINGSHU WANG REUTERS

Tokyo 2020 came to an end just over a month ago, but the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee is already looking towards the Winter Olympics in Beijing. The first order of business is assuring that all U.S. Olympic hopefuls will have to be vaccinated.

Vaccinations required as of Dec. 1

All athletes, staff, and others who will be in the vicinity of USOPC facilities and training centers will have to show proof of their COVID vaccination before December 1. 

The announcement was made pubic after USOCP CEO Sara Hirshland wrote a letter detailing the mandate for those who will be participating in the Winter Olympics in Beijing in a years time.

U.S. athletes who competed in Tokyo this summer were encouraged to get the vaccine, but it was not a requirement.

Most but not all were vaccinated in Tokyo 2020

According to statistics released by the USOPC, 83% of American athletes in Japan this summer were vaccinated before the games began. That was about on par with the 85% of athletes who had the vaccine as calculated by the IOC.

Bryson DeChambeau was one of the few that members of Team USA who declined the COVID shot before the start of this year’s Summer Olympics. Just days before the Opening Ceremonies 2020 US Open champion tested positive for COVID and missed the chance to compete for the gold medal in the Tokyo.

Hirshland said athletes would have a chance to apply for exemption from the vaccine, but stressed the vaccine will be vital in keeping all involved safe, "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."

No requirements for major leagues around the country

While the USOPC will activate these regulations at the beginning of November, the NFL, NBA and NHL have not implemented a required vaccination, although there are strict regulations for unvaccinated players.

Teams in the NFL risk forfeited games, and league fines if any scheduling conflicts arise as a result of COVID issues while NHL teams can suspend players if they miss games due to the virus or travel restrictions.