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mask off

Unvaccinated U.S. swimmer slammed for going maskless at Olympics

Michael Andrew, the American swimmer who previously revealed he isn't vaccinated against COVID-19, came under fire Friday after going without a mask while speaking to reporters at the Olympics. 

Andrew stopped in the area at the Olympics where reporters can conduct interviews with athletes, and he declined to wear a mask, saying, "For me, it's pretty hard to breathe in after kind of sacrificing my body in the water, so I feel like my health is a little more tied to being able to breathe than protecting what's coming out of my mouth," The Associated Press reported

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee initially told USA Today that "not wearing a mask is a violation of the COVID mitigation protocols" and that "we are currently reviewing this matter" and would "take action as needed." Despite that, though, the USOPC subsequently said he didn't violate the rules because he's permitted to not wear a mask while doing interviews.

Still, USA Today columnist Christine Brennan wrote that "every other U.S. swimmer I've seen all week has worn" a mask in this area, and she described his behavior as an "an American embarrassment," and "insulting to every one of his USA teammates" who have been wearing masks. USA Today reporter Chris Bumbaca also slammed Andrew for "disgusting and selfish" behavior. 

Andrew defended his choice to not wear a mask in the mixed area by saying, "I think it's great that there's procedures but at the end of the day, all of us here have been under quarantine and in the same testing protocol, so there's a level of safety that's comfortable when we're racing," per the AP. The swimmer previously defended his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, telling Fox Business he "didn't want to risk any time out of the pool."