Michael Andrew defends refusal to wear mask after Olympic disappointment
TOKYO - Michael Andrew, the controversial American swimmer who opted not to get a COVID-19 vaccination, went through an interview room without a mask after a disappointing race here at the Olympics on Friday.
The Tokyo Olympic Protocols require the wearing of masks in post-competition "mixed zones" where journalists gather about 1.5 meters from the athletes to ask questions. Andrew isn't the only Olympic athlete to break these rules, but he is the first American swimmer to break them. Everyone else has given masks interviews since the competition began on Saturday.
Andrew carried a mask in one hand and placed it on a table during the interview. He was asked twice why he wasn't wearing one.
"No, no reason," he said. He still hasn't put it on.
"It's pretty hard for me to breathe in after sacrificing my body in the water," he said. “So I feel like my health depends a little more on being able to breathe than protecting what comes out of my mouth.
“I do - I respect the decision. I think it's great that there are procedures, but at the end of the day we were all quarantined here and following the same test protocol. So there is a level of security that I am comfortable with. When we're racing, it's important to get my oxygen. "
Michael Andrew speaks to the media after finishing fifth in the men's 200 IM. (Yahoo Sports)
Andrew leaned forward as he spoke. He was still out of breath after finishing fifth in the 200m individual medley, a race in which he was expecting a medal. After 150 meters he led by a full second, but faded over the final freestyle stage.
"It hurt a lot," said Andrew of the race. “I think it hurt worse than it looked. And it looked pretty bad. "
He answered a few more questions about the race, then the two of them about wearing masks. He was told again that he was the only American swimmer to run through the mixed zone without a mask and asked again why.
"No reason," he repeated. “I mean, I'll put it on when I'm done here. But just speaking is difficult.
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