After the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB) made the coronavirus vaccination mandatory for athletes heading to the Tokyo Olympics, Hungary’s first-ever Olympian in slalom kayak, Julia Schmid, withdrew from the Games. She now says that she is not against the vaccination and that it was the BOM that put her in an impossible situation.
Julia Schmid is an athlete of Austrian origin who qualified thanks to the redistribution of quotas. She has represented Hungary since 2019. Previously, she won two silver medals at the World Championships as a team, and also became a silver medalist (2x individual) and bronze medal (team) at the European Championships . If Hungary is one of the world leaders in kayak-canoe sprinting (and also in the marathon), it is far from being a great power in slalom. In fact, Schmid would have been Hungary’s very first sports representative at the Olympics.
His withdrawal made headlines on Saturday. The MOB only referred laconically to its July 9 decision making vaccination compulsory for Olympians. Schmid then let them know that for this reason she would resign from the competition in Tokyo.
The athlete, however, recently made his stance clear for the Blikk tabloid. She said that being a veterinarian by profession, she was not against vaccinations at all. She says she flew to Tokyo long before the MOB made vaccination mandatory and that she was planning to get the vaccine after Games.
In response to the reasons why she has not taken the opportunity to get the vaccine in recent months, she highlighted the many races she was scheduled to participate in and that when she finally got the chance to do so, she suffered from migraines, vomiting and was bedridden.
She said she did not understand the MOB’s decision on mandatory jabs, stressing that the side effects would have jeopardized her preparations and that the first shot was still not appropriate to ensure immunity. Then tCommittee officials visited her at the hotel with a jab, where she was told she would pick it up or go home. She says she was put in an impossible situation and therefore stepping down was not her decision.
Tokyo 1964: the success of Hungarian athletes at the Olympic Games held in the land of the rising sun
It will not be the first time that Hungary has competed for Olympic medals in Tokyo, as in 1964, Hungarian athletes won 10 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze medals in the international competition.
She now says she is devastated that her Olympic dream is shattered, and maintains that she has been practicing twice a day in addition to her job for the past ten years.
After Schmid’s departure, the Hungarian squad currently has 173 athletes.
featured image: Julia Schmid in a competition in 2020; via MTI / EPA / Martin Divisek