Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew found himself in hot water after deciding against wearing a mask while speaking to reporters on Friday, July 20.
According to the Associated Press, via NBC News, 22-year-old Andrew was noticeably maskless when he stopped to talk to press after finishing fifth in the men’s 200-meter individual medley. While it’s noted by the AP that “most swimmers” wear masks outside the pool, and media and other employees are required to wear them inside the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Andrew said he struggles to breathe under a face covering.
“For me,” he explained to reporters, “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 San Diego native, who has publicly said he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, continued, “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.”