‘I’m definitely going to get that’: Vaccines not required, most USOPC athletes still eager for shots

During the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, Naya Tapper admitted that she held doubts regarding a vaccine against infection.

“For me,” she said, “it came down to if I really needed it, like if my immune system was strong enough on its own.”

Tapper, a 26-year-old wing on the U.S. women’s rugby sevens squad, ended up contracting the virus.

“So after that, I was like, ‘OK, I definitely don’t want that to happen while I’m at the Olympics, so I’m definitely going to get that,’” she said last week during the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee virtual media summit.

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The USOPC is not mandating the vaccine for its athletes or members of the delegation, although leaders maintained that the governing body  strongly encourages athletes be vaccinated prior to the Games — Wednesday marked 100 days until the opening ceremony — in Tokyo this summer. They will not track who gets vaccinated of the 800-plus athletes expected to be named to Team USA for the Olympics and Paralympics,CEO Sarah Hirshland said.

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