Team USA Olympians and Paralympians Must Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19 to Compete in Beijing Games

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Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games
Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games

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Athletes hoping to compete for Team USA in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said in a statement that vaccines will be mandated for all its athletes, starting on Nov. 1.

Team members, coaches, trainers, contractors and vendors — as well as "all individuals who work, visit, or provide services at USOPC Facilities as well as all individuals attending any activities conducted by an internally managed sport" — must also be vaccinated, the USOPC said.

The organization noted that there will also be an opportunity for athletes to apply for an exemption, though it must be based on a "legitimate medical reason or because of a sincerely held religious belief."

The requirements "will also apply to our full Team USA delegation at future Olympic and Paralympic Games," according to the statement.

RELATED: Beijing Winter Olympics to Implement 'Rigorous' COVID-19 Measures, IOC Says

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"While we were hopeful that we would be lifting our COVID-19 restrictions by the time the flame was extinguished at the Tokyo 2020 Games, the stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over," USOPC chief executive officer Sarah Hirshland wrote in a letter, which was obtained by USA Today Sports. "This step will increase our ability to create a safe and productive environment for Team USA athletes and staff, and allow us to restore consistency in planning, preparation and service to athletes."

During the Tokyo Summer Olympics earlier this year, the USOPC recommended vaccines against COVID-19, though they were not required. The organization previously said that around 83 percent of the 613 Americans who competed were vaccinated, per The Washington Post, which cited Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Finnoff.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not yet said whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine will be required for athletes from other countries competing in Beijing.

The upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on Feb. 4, 2022, and last through Feb. 20, 2022. The 2022 Winter Paralympics will then take place between March 4, 2022, to March 13, 2022.

Multiple large-scale studies have found that vaccines are safe. There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.