Five of the six American athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the team’s top doctors revealed on Friday just before the Games officially start.
That information was drawn from the health histories that 567 of the athletes completed before they left for Japan, said Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, who estimated that 83 percent of those participants were fully vaccinated.
“83 percent is actually a significant number and we’re very happy with it,” said Finnoff, medical chief of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
That’s higher than the national percentage, with about 56 percent of Americans having received at least one dose of the vaccine. But it still means that about 100 of the total contingent of 613 American athletes have not yet been vaccinated.
The news came as the opening ceremony of the pandemic-stricken Games kicked off at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, marking the official launch of the global sporting event.
The Covid-19 safety regulations continue to apply to every athlete, whether vaccinated or not.
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“The best thing you can do is assume everyone is at risk and reduce the risk by putting in place Covid mitigation measures that we know work,” Finnoff said.
So far, beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb and gymnast Kara Eaker are the only American athletes known to have tested positive.
In total, the International Olympic Committee has reported 13 Covid-19 infections among all athletes in Japan. And the IOC estimates that 85 percent of athletes and staff living in the Olympic Village have been vaccinated.
Much of the Japanese public continues to oppose holding the games in Tokyo, in part for fear that the upcoming athletes will exacerbate the Covid-19 crisis in their country.
But the U.S. Olympic team at least outperforms the host nation when it comes to vaccinations.
According to the latest statistics, Japan’s national vaccination rate was just 23.2 percent on Friday.
While the IOC did not require athletes to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to compete in the Olympics, other sports organizations are beginning to pressure vaccine-resistant stars.
The National Football League warned teams on Thursday they risk the possibility of losing a game – and the players could lose a weekly salary – if a Covid-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players forces officials to cancel a game.