Athletes who want to represent the United States at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 under a new mandate from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
The USOPC announced that as of Nov. 1, all employees, athletes, contractors and others must be fully vaccinated to be able to access USOPC facilities including the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Centers.
Starting Dec. 1, the mandate will be extended to include all Team USA delegation members or hopefuls for future Games.
Those who wish to obtain a medical or religious exemption can apply for one. If the request is granted, the USOPC “will require daily COVID testing for any day(s) that you would be accessing a USOPC facility, participating in an activity hosted by an internally managed sport, or representing Team USA at a delegation event such as the Games.”
Everyone, whether they are vaccinated or receive an exemption, must also follow all other COVID protocols as outlined in the various USOPC and IOC guidelines. The USOPC also said “We will monitor COVID prevalence and CDC guidelines and may change these requirements as necessary.”
The USOPC, in explaining the decision, said “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and new variants of the virus emerge, the USOPC is dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of our community, both at home and globally. Unfortunately, this pandemic is far from over. The vaccination requirement will increase our ability to create a safe and productive environment for Team USA athletes and staff in Beijing.”
The organization added that the mandatory vaccinations would “allow us to restore consistency in planning, preparation and optimal service to athletes.”
The requirement shouldn’t have any effect on the Team USA delegation participating in the inaugural Junior Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia. Panam Sports in August made COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for all participants and accredited persons 18 years of age or older. Cali 2021, which features more than 3,800 athletes between 18 and 21 years old competing in 39 disciplines, begins Nov. 25 and ends Dec. 5.
Earlier this month, organizers of the 2021 Winter Universiade in Lucerne, Switzerland also made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all delegation members. The event, which runs from Dec. 11 to Dec. 21, includes athletes aged 17 to 25 from 58 countries.