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Small minority of U.S. Olympians oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandate, say officials

Oct 18 (Reuters) – The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) mentioned on Monday its choice to make COVID-19 vaccines obligatory for these competing at subsequent yr’s Beijing Olympics has been met with some resistance.

In a bid to create a protected setting and restore some stage of consistency in planning, the USOPC introduced final month that Team USA athletes hoping to compete within the Beijing Olympics will likely be required to be totally vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19.

“The response is as you would expect: Within our general population, there are some people who are extremely happy that we introduced this policy,” Jonathan Finnoff, the USOPC’s chief medical officer, mentioned in the course of the digital Team USA media summit.

“And there are others that are upset and would like to not have any mandate regarding vaccinations.”

According to Finnoff, it’s only a “very small minority” of Team USA athletes who oppose the mandate and the USOPC is having one-on-one conversations with every one to debate their emotions and clarify why the choice was made.

Last month’s announcement by the USOPC got here days earlier than the International Olympic Committee mentioned the Beijing Olympics would have tight COVID-19 measures in place to make sure the protection of all individuals in the course of the Feb. 4-20 occasion.

Finnoff mentioned the “more stringent” Beijing measures, which he added in contrast to the USOPC’s guidelines won’t grant non secular exemption, would supersede the U.S. coverage.

Any athlete who’s granted a medical exemption should undergo a 21-day quarantine in Beijing earlier than they’ll start coaching forward of their occasion.

“These are challenging times but the vaccine policy that we’ve put in place and that China has put in place is going to make the Games as safe as possible,” mentioned Finnoff.

USOPC Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland mentioned the COVID-19 mandate is all in regards to the security and well being of the staff.

“The presence of this virus makes the challenge greater for all of us in a Games environment but we are committed to doing everything we can to mitigate illness and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” mentioned Hirshland.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, enhancing by Pritha Sarkar

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