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VERIFY: No, Olympic athletes are not required to get vaccinated before the Olympic Games

The Playbook for athletes says that 80% of Olympic and Paralympic Village residents will be vaccinated ahead of the Games.
Credit: AP
The Olympics rings stand outside the Narita International Airport on July 10, 2021, in Narita, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Teen tennis sensation Coco Gauff will sit out at the Tokyo Olympics. 

The 17-year-old announced on Twitter that she tested positive for COVID-19. This announcement comes amid growing concerns of COVID-19 among the athletes in Tokyo.

Do they have to be vaccinated to compete?

THE QUESTION

Are Olympic athletes required to get vaccinated?

OUR SOURCES

  • International Olympic Committee (IOC)
  • National Olympic Committees (NOCs)
  • Our World In Data

THE ANSWER

No, Olympic athletes are not required to get vaccinated before the Olympic Games.  

WHAT WE FOUND

According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as the Tokyo and Japanese governments, participating athletes and officials will not need to be vaccinated. The IOC, however, is still encouraging countries that do wish to vaccinate their athletes to lead by example.

According to the IOC "Playbook" online, it says:

"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 Gold Medal Favorite, American swimmer Michael Andrew, recently making headlines for saying he stands by his decision to not get vaccinated before the Olympics.

He said in an interview that remaining unvaccinated is a "risk" he's willing to take.

The Playbook for athletes says that 80% of Olympic and Paralympic Village residents will be vaccinated ahead of the Games.

In Japan, only 23% of the general population is fully vaccinated, a number that represents those who more than two weeks ago received their second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine - or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, according to data published by Our World In Data. 

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with newer statistics presenting Japan's COVID-19 vaccination rate as of July 19, 2021.