Olympic-bound sailor Andrew Lewis is uninterested in getting vaccinated before competing in the 2020 Tokyo Games, scheduled to start on July 23. Vaccines are expected to be available to athletes and team delegations before their arrival in Japan owing to a collaboration between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and China.
On Thursday, the IOC announced agreements with drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech to distribute donated doses of the vaccine to participants in their home countries. These would then be administered by local health officials through domestic vaccination programmes.
Additionally, the Chinese Olympic Committee, in March, offered to make vaccines available to Olympians in territories which have approved Chinese vaccines for use. IOC president Thomas Bach said the global sporting body would also pay for each vaccine.
In an interview with Newsday, Lewis said he sees no reason to be vaccinated yet as he lives a healthy lifestyle.
Lewis said, "With regard to the vaccine, I am not running it down and I’m not really interested in it right now. I believe...the way I eat, live and train, I’ll remain very healthy.
“Until my confidence becomes stronger around it, I’m very happy to stay just the way I am. When quarantine is required (via international travel), I will accept the sacrifice, if need be."
Lewis, currently in Europe preparing for his third Olympics, said he still has some unanswered questions about the vaccines.
“The way I see it – the evidence is just not strong enough for me. I’m going to stay non-vaccinated until I have some sort of confidence around this injection that most of the world is getting involved in.
"Now I’m not saying I’m invincible and cannot contract covid19. What I’m saying is my choice is to be healthy is to continue living, eating and breathing from the earth and living much more of a natural way of life. I look forward to living that life as long as I am here.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s Tokyo-bound javelin ace Keshorn Walcott recently said he took the first dose of AstraZeneca in Trinidad and is awaiting his second jab.
Walcott said he supported the idea of athletes being vaccinated beforehand to minimise the risk of catching the virus, especially during international transit.
Lewis said over the past few years, he has made drastic changes to his diet –including turning vegetarian and eating less processed foods – and does not want to interfere with his regimen.
Although not willing to take it himself, Lewis said others who have comorbidities should take the vaccine.
The Ministry of Health said patients – including young people without comorbidities – have contracted the virus and died.
Lewis said, “I do think the vaccine has a chance of helping people who are sick, ill and unhealthy. I believe this vaccine was designed for that and could help somebody who is not very healthy and really needs something like this to protect them.”
TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis has encouraged the local delegation to get vaccinated ahead of the Games.
Lewis, the Caribbean National Olympic Committees president, remains optimistic the TTOC would be included in the government’s national vaccination programme. A shipment of 100,000 Sinopharm covid19 vaccines from China is expected to arrive on Tuesday.