Well over three quarters of the US athletes that are in Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have received Covid-19 vaccines, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) revealed on Friday.
Team USA announced earlier this month that a total of 613 athletes were set to represent the country in the Summer Games. Athletes are filling in health history forms upon their arrival in Japan.
However, because some US athletes have yet to arrive, the total number of health histories answered is “not quite” 600, USOPC chief medical officer Dr. Jonathan Finnoff revealed. He said he did not have the exact number.
“As of today, it’s 83%,” Finnoff said in a press conference on Friday, referring to athletes that have been vaccinated. “That is just athletes. It is not staff because we don’t collect private information on staff members.”
That 83% figure should be of concern to Team USA, according to CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan, who expressed her concerns about what she described as the “alarmingly low” number of vaccinated US athletes at the Games.
“This number – 83 percent – is alarmingly low, considering that your odds of being contact traced out of your event increase greatly if you are not vaccinated,” she said on Twitter. “Plus, you are a greater risk to your teammates, roommates, etc.”
‘Health and safety measures’
Finnoff explained that all members of the US delegation in Tokyo – whether that be athletes, staff members or volunteers – are being treated as if they’re unvaccinated.
“When somebody asks me should the Games should go on, I can say emphatically that yes indeed they should go on,” Finnoff said.
“I think the health and safety measures that have been implemented are exceptional, and I’m very confident we can have a safe and successful Games.”
In the National Football League (NFL), teams were informed on Thursday that any Covid-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players or staff members will forfeit that week’s game and be “credited with a loss” if the game can’t be rescheduled during the 18-week season.
With teams starting to report for training camp, the NFL saw an increase in Covid-19 vaccination rates around the league this week, with 14 of the 32 NFL teams having reached the above 85% threshold, the league told CNN.
The NFL also reported that 78% of players around the league have received at least one vaccine, an increase of over 4% from last week.
All 32 NFL teams are now above the 50% vaccine threshold, the league said, after previously having two teams last week with less than half of their players vaccinated.
Four US athletes have had to pull out of the Games already having tested positive for Covid-19.
Men’s beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb, tennis sensation Coco Gauff, basketball player Katie Lou Samuelson and gymnast Kara Eaker will miss the Olympics as they have to now isolate.
Across the US, about 339.8 million doses have been administered. That translates to 102 doses per 100 people.
“I would invite certainly the American public, but frankly all of those around the world to enjoy these Games, to rest assured that we can conduct these Games in a safe and healthy environment and that we should enjoy the fun and the spirit of what this competition is all about,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said.
“Let’s enjoy these Games as much as we always would and allow them to inspire and unite as they should and as they can and as I’m confident they will.”
A famous walk
Of the 613 US athletes that will be competing at the Games, more than 200 plan to take part in Friday’s Opening Ceremony
Rick Adams, USOPC chief of sport performance and national governing body services, said the decision on whether to walk was left up to the athletes.
“What you had was a situation where the stay guidelines in terms of not coming until five days before your competition, that limited the number of athletes that might typically be walking,” Adams said.
“We will have a significantly smaller group, but that is not based on a limitation from the organizing committee. That’s just a product of the athletes that are here based on their competition window and those who have chosen to walk.”
Homero De la Fuente and Jacob Lev contributed to this report.