Are Olympic Athletes Forced to Get Their COVID-19 Immunizations?

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Jul. 19 2021, Published 6:42 p.m. ET

Are Olympians Required to Be Vaccinated?
Source: Getty Images

Plagues/diseases aren't really conducive to orchestrating large-scale athletic events, so it was a no-brainer that the Summer 2020 Olympics were delayed after the global outbreak of COVID-19. While many people have more or less learned to live with/stop caring about the pandemic now that vaccinations have become readily available, viewers of the Olympic Games still want to know: Are Olympians required to be vaccinated?

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Are Olympians required to be vaccinated for the Olympic Games?

While the Olympics committee speculated that some 80 percent of athletes are going to be vaccinated at the Olympics, it's not a requirement for competitors to received their COVID-19 shots according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the National Olympic Committees (NOCs).

Olympics picture in front of rings
Source: Getty Images
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However, the IOC is strongly encouraging all Olympic participants get their shots anyway. The IOC Playbook writes (per WCNC): "Please note: While we encourage everyone coming to Tokyo to get vaccinated if this is possible in line with the national immunization guidelines of your country, you will not be required to have received a vaccine in order to participate in the Games."

Olympic swimming standout Michael Andrew received some criticism for doubling down on his choice not to get vaccinated prior to competing, stating that it's a "risk" he's willing to take upon himself. As July 19, 2021, WCNC reports that only 3.9 percent of Japan's population has been vaccinated.

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COVID isn't the only headline coming out of the Olympic Games, but cardboard beds as well.

Much has been written about the COVID-19 protocols for the Olympic Games: A ton of rapid testing will take place on site, and competitors will be expected to wear masks when they aren't competing, training heavily, eating, or sleeping. However, there's another big talking point about athlete well-being in the Tokyo Olympics: the "anti-sex" beds.

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A story began circulating on the internet that the cardboard beds were designed to keep athletes from getting frisky with one another and that they're designed to only support the weight of one person, and that any sudden movements would cause the mattresses to collapse.

For some reason, a bunch of folks were immediately willing to believe there was some evilly puritanical governing body forcing athletes to sleep on these things.

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However, this theory was quickly shot down by none other than Olympic gymnast Rhys McClenaghan himself. The young man stepped on top of the mattress and jumped up and down on it to demonstrate its sturdiness and to proclaim the claim as "fake news."

So where did the rumor start? Many speculate that it gained traction when Team USA runner Paul Chelimo quipped on his Twitter account that the cardboard beds were created in order to stop athletes from getting buck nasty.

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Some coital-conspiracy theorists tried to shill the notion that the collapsible beds were created as a means of minimizing contact between athletes to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Stories of rampant intercourse among athletes in previous games have become a specific brand of fan-fiction writers' dream come true, but the construction of the beds have more to do with sustainability than it does from stopping Olympians from getting it on.

CNN reported the Tokyo 2020 Games' "Sustainability Pre-Games Report" as stating: "We are promoting the use of recycled materials for procured items and construction materials at the Tokyo 2020 Games." Some 150,000 condoms will be distributed among athletes, but they are being encouraged to take them home as opposed to using them in the Olympic Village.


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