Lee Kiefer made history on Sunday in Tokyo becoming the first-ever American man or woman to win individual foil gold at the Olympic Games. The three-time Olympian triumphed in the women’s foil final with a 15-13 victory over defending champion Inna Deriglazova of the Russian Olympic Committee team. After landing the final point, Kiefer, 27, took off her mask and yelled, “Oh my god!” while celebrating the monumental moment. But that’s not all Kiefer has to celebrate. The world-class athlete will soon graduate med school to become a doctor—a reminder that so many Olympic athletes maintain full-time jobs and live a second life in addition to competing on a global stage.The medal has been many years in the making for Kiefer, who placed fifth at the 2012 London Games and finished 10th at the 2016 Rio Games. A four-time NCAA champion while at Notre Dame, Kiefer’s best performance on the Olympic stage came together while balancing the demands of her third year of medical school at the University of Kentucky.“It’s such an incredible feeling that I share with my coach, I share with my husband, with my family, just everyone that’s been a part of this,” Kiefer told ESPN while wearing her gold medal. “I wish I could chop it up in little pieces and distribute it to everyone I love.”Kiefer considered retiring from the sport after the 2016 season, but when she reached number one in the world during her senior year and received support from advisors at UK Med School, she decided to continue fencing while pursuing her goal of becoming a doctor.As Kiefer shared in an interview with USA Fencing, navigating both demanding pursuits hasn’t been easy, especially with the pandemic raging last year. She and her husband, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Gerek Meinhardt, built a fencing strip in her parents’ basement when their training club closed. After completing seven months of her third year of medical school—which involved 6:45 a.m. starts at the hospital, studying late at night, plus attending class lectures and fencing practice when time allowed—Kiefer took a leave of absence to focus on preparing for Tokyo. All of the effort came to a stunning finale and clearly paid off. “I think it came down to having a really good support system,” she told USA Fencing. “Obviously my husband, my family, and my teammates—the people who I’ve worked up to this Olympics with. I think the fact that we all shared this journey and this goal motivated me to make the final push.”Kiefer is just one example of several athletes who often balance school, day jobs, and parenting while chasing their Olympic dreams. For example, while representing Colombia at the 2016 Olympics, rugby star Nathalie Marchino worked as a sales account manager at Twitter and took a five-month leave of absence to prepare for Rio. When she’s not racing on the track for Team Canada, Lanni Marchant works as a criminal defense attorney for a law firm in the United States. Marchant finished 25th in the 10,000 meters and 24th in the marathon at the Rio Games. And three-time Olympian Ana Rente balances her career as a doctor while training on the trampoline.Kiefer’s gold medal brings the U.S. total medal count to 10 as of Sunday. The U.S. is second only to China, who currently leads the medal count with 11 total. Related:
When 46-year-old Oksana Chusovitina completed her two vaults early Sunday morning at the Tokyo Games, she became the oldest female gymnast to ever compete in the Olympics, according to NBC Sports. It would be the final Olympic appearance for the gymnast, who represented Uzbekistan in Tokyo.Chusovitina earned a score of 14.166 on the vault, which wasn’t high enough to advance from the qualifying rounds. In the stark, nearly empty arena—spectators have been banned from Tokyo due to COVID-19—the small crowd offered the gymnastics legend a standing ovation. Wiping tears from her eyes, Chusovitina waved to the crowd of coaches and competitors and formed a heart with both her hands.“It was really nice,” she told USA Today after the event. “I cried tears of happiness because so many people have supported me for a long time.”During training on Thursday, Chusovitina told reporters that the Tokyo Games would be her last, according to The Guardian.“My son is 22 years old and I want to spend time with him. I want to be a mom and wife,” Chusovitina told the outlet.Chusovitina first competed in the Olympics at the Barcelona Games in 1992, where she won team gold as a member of the Unified Team for the Soviet Union. Sixteen years later, she earned individual silver for the vault in Beijing. Initially known for her floor routines, Chusovitina later became a specialist in the vault, and has won a record nine world championship medals in that event.During her eight consecutive Olympic appearances—a record for gymnastics—she competed for three different flags: the Soviet Union, Germany, and Uzbekistan, a feat no other athlete has done. (Chusovitina moved to Germany in 2002 for medical care for her son, Alisher, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, according to The Guardian.)“On the podium, everyone is the same whether you are 40 or 16. You have to go out and do your routine and your jumps,” Chusovitina told the Associated Press in 2016 in the lead up to the Rio Games. “But it’s a pity there are no points for age.”Chusovitina’s emotional farewell—which, as she assured USA Today, is for real this time, after previous tries at retirement didn’t take—occurred during the competition for fourth subdivision in the gymnastics qualifying rounds at Tokyo. Team USA competed in subdivision three, and qualified for the team finals, although they finished the day behind Russia. The team finals will take place on Tuesday.Related:
The U.S. women’s national soccer team continued to fight on and off the pitch this week.Two days after the reigning World Cup champions suffered a deflating 3-0 loss to Sweden, the players filed an appeal Friday to overturn a 2020 decision against their equal pay lawsuit. On Saturday, the team rebounded with a 6-1 victory over New Zealand, breathing new life into the Americans’ Olympic gold medal pursuit in Tokyo.With two goals in the first half—a lead kicked off by Rose Lavelle who scored her first Olympic goal in the 10th minute—and four goals in the last 45 minutes of play, the U.S. dominated the match against New Zealand on Saturday in Saitama, Japan.The win was much needed after the U.S. women’s soccer team was outplayed by Sweden—the same squad that knocked out the Americans in the quarterfinals of the Rio Games—during its opening match on Wednesday. In the process, the Swedes snapped Team USA’s 44-match unbeaten streak.“We got our a**** kicked, didn’t we. Just a little tight, just a little nervous,” forward Megan Rapinoe told NPR after the game. “We had a few chances that we could have taken better that would have shifted the game quite a bit.”The Americans, led by veteran U.S. women’s soccer team icons—including four-time Olympian Carli Lloyd—weren’t down for long. With eyes on becoming the first women’s team to ever take Olympic gold after winning the World Cup, while making history as advocates for pay equity, the U.S. bounced back in a big way.On Friday, the 28 current and former U.S. players announced that their legal team had filed an appeal to overturn Judge Gary Klauser’s May 2020 decision, which ruled there was no basis to prove the players’ claims that the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) financially discriminated against the women based on their gender. Klauser said the women played more games and made more money than their male counterparts and had rejected a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) where they would have the same pay structure as the men’s team in favor of a different CBA, CNN reports.In response, the players said they had not been offered the same CBA as the men’s team. They claimed Klauser’s ruling was “based on a flawed analysis of the team’s compensation, despite the abundant evidence of unequal pay,” according to a statement shared with CNN.“If a woman has to work more than a man and be much more successful than him to earn about the same pay, that is decidedly not equal pay and it violates the law,” player spokesperson Molly Levinson told CNN. “And yet, that is exactly what the women players on the U.S. National team do—they play more games and achieve better results in order to be paid about the same amount as the men’s national team players per game. By any measure, that is not equal pay, and it violates federal law.”The team’s victory on Saturday means the U.S. still has a shot at winning gold. The Americans are scheduled to face Australia on Tuesday in Kashima, which will conclude their Group G play. For reference, there are 12 nations divided into three groups (labeled E-G) of four teams each who will play these preliminary games in a classic round-robin style. The top two teams from each group will automatically advance to the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament.Related:
In our Sleeping With… series, we ask people from different career paths, backgrounds, and stages of life how they make sleep magic happen.It’s not an overstatement to say that making history is part of Ashleigh Johnson’s life. The U.S. Olympic water polo goalkeeper was the first Black American athlete to make the U.S. Olympic Women’s Water Polo Team in 2016 and, by extension, the first to win a gold medal in the sport. Excelling is part of the job.But when the pandemic delayed the 2020 Summer Games, Johnson (like the rest of us) had major downtime. She’d moved to California with her teammates for training but decided to stay in her apartment when the games were postponed. “My roommates went to their homes, and I was alone here,” Johnson tells SELF. “So I was like, OK, we’re not training right now. I don’t need to be at the top of my game. I need to give my body some time to rest.”The 26-year-old has dedicated much of her life to competing and advancing representation within water polo. So, quarantine was an opportunity to relax and reflect. “The thing that surprised me the most was how hard it was to slow down,” Johnson says. “How hard it was to not go all out on every workout … and how hard it felt not to live in the extreme.”Not only did Johnson get “really comfortable” with herself, but she also discovered exercising for pleasure. (“Let me give myself the space to do yoga every day,” she recalls thinking.) She also noticed subtle changes in her body—like what her hair and skin needed when she wasn’t spending hours in a pool each day. “I had to create my own structures and my own awareness of who I was,” she says. “And that was interesting because I don’t get that time a lot.”Below, Ashleigh Johnson talks to SELF about how the 2021 Summer Olympics will be different, her favorite skin-care products, and the journaling prompt that turns her day around.I’ve been revisiting the moment I found out the games would be postponed a lot lately because it puts a lot of things into perspective.I think that every Olympics is different in itself. But this one is going to be far from what somebody might expect the Olympic Village might look like or how competitions might look. One of my favorite parts of the Rio Games was sharing it with my family—for them to see me play and welcoming them into our team environment. And that’s definitely not going to happen this time, which is sad. But I’m grateful that the games are happening, and we’re getting this opportunity to pursue this huge goal alongside the family that we’ve built as a team. So that’s going to be really cool. I think that every athlete is just super grateful that it’s happening. They’re also preparing for what they can control. We’re just there to be ready to perform and to represent.I’ve been sleeping really well. I’ve been prioritizing it because I realized how much it impacts how I perform, train, and feel.As a goalkeeper, sleep helps my ability to track the ball, my ability to respond, and my ability to be mentally aware. There’s a world of difference between seven hours and eight and a half hours. So I’ve been trying to get eight and a half to nine hours of sleep each night. That’s meant cutting my Netflix time, which can also be super relaxing, but sleep is something that I’ve learned that I need to prioritize as an athlete. It’s changed my world.When we started training again, it was gradual. I’m sure you can relate because everyone has had to adjust.We have a great trainer who got us access to testing and set really strict protocols with how we interact. The trainer made us feel really safe about getting back into training. But it was a gradual process. We didn’t just get back into the pool and start doing contact. We were swimming. We’re doing opposite starts on opposite sides of the pool. We were in separate groups, so I didn’t see my full team together for a long time. We’re still sanitizing and maintaining distance if we spend time apart.Once I’m home from practice, I have a skin-care routine. I layer a bunch of products—I’m really into my skin.I love skincare, and I love trying new things! I lose a lot of moisture from the chlorine, sun, and layering on so much sunscreen. So anything that brings moisture, I’m about it.
If you’re looking for some gentle movement to start your day, a yoga core workout might be the wake-up sequence that you need.Whether you’re the type to hit the ground running first thing in the morning or more likely to hit the snooze button instead, there are definitely benefits to adding a gentle morning movement sequence into your mix. For one thing, it helps you reset if you’re the hard-charging type—and brings up your energy if you’re not.Another big bonus: Even gentle movement can have notable effects for your core, the part of your body which helps stabilize you to lift heavier weights during your workout and perform everyday tasks like bending and twisting easier. So while you might not exactly feel like powering through a sweaty HIIT core workout when you’re still rubbing sleep from your eyes, moving your body with intention—focusing on form and breath—with a yoga-inspired sequence can also activate your core muscles, from your abs to your obliques to your lower back.A yoga-inspired sequence can not only get your mind in the right place for the day, it can also give you all the advantages of a stronger core, like better posture, more energy, and a higher degree of body awareness, Marcia Denis, D.P.T., a Miami-based physical therapist, certified yoga teacher, and cohost of the Disabled Girls Who Lift podcast, tells SELF. Plus, there are also tons more benefits of yoga—everything from improving lower back pain to building stronger muscles and improvising balance, as SELF reported previously.As long as you’re connected to your breath and staying present in your movements, you’re doing yoga, Dr. Denis says. So while you may not recognize all of the moves below as specific yoga poses, they’re still serving a similar role. The main cue in a gentle, mobility-based routine like this is to cultivate a sense of joy and appreciation as you’re moving—feelings that should be fueling your purpose as well as your practice.In this yoga core workout routine Dr. Denis created, not all of the moves are “core specific” and target that area directly, but they all involve some level of stabilization, which activates your core to keep your body in proper alignment. You’ll have a suggested number of reps/number of breaths for each move, but go with what feels right for you. If your core is loving the ideas of more reps on one sequence, listen to your body. And as always, these should be done slowly and with intention—if you find yourself moving too fast and getting into sweaty territory, consider that a cue to back off and slow down.The WorkoutWhat you need: A yoga mat for comfort. Yoga blocks for modification can also be helpful, too.ExercisesCat-cowDownward-facing dogDown dog absPlankSide plankChild’s poseBoat poseReclining spinal twistReclining pigeon poseDirectionsHold each pose for the specified amount of time or reps, going from one to the next without rest. (Of course, if you need time to reset, take what you need.) Try to focus on your breath to bring intention to each move.Demoing the moves below are Shauna Harrison (GIF 1), a Bay-area based trainer, yogi, public health academic, advocate, and columnist for SELF; Caitlyn Seitz (GIF 2), a New York-based group fitness instructor and singer/songwriter; Cookie Janee (GIF 3), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Erica Gibbons (GIF 4), a California-based personal trainer and graduate student becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist; Amanda Wheeler (GIF 5), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength; Jessica Rihal (GIFs 6, 8-9), a plus-sized yoga instructor (200-HR) and a strong advocate of fitness/wellness for all bodies; and Crystal Williams (GIF 7), a group fitness instructor and trainer in NYC.
“I think doing things on a consistent basis—sleep, hydration, massaging, recovery ice bath, training—has all allowed me to continue to play,” she says. “My recovery hasn’t changed.”That also means continuing to make these basics a priority, whether she’s in season or off-season.“I’m not taking months and weeks off at a time or eating terribly, or not getting enough sleep. It’s been constant,” she says. “I’ve really given [the sport] everything I have up to this point and will continue until I retire.”3. Fuel appropriately.When Lloyd reached her late 20s, she started to take a more informed look at her nutrition plan to figure out the best way to fuel for performance. Starting in 2009, she made a conscious effort to eat whole, organic foods while limiting added sugars. She also makes sure to eat enough protein, especially post-game, in order to rebuild her muscles and improve recovery.The extra time and effort that goes into nutrition planning is worth it, Lloyd says: At 39, she feels like the strongest version of herself. By continuing to keep her fueling routine steady, she says, “you just continue to see an evolution.”4. Play smarter.It’s probably not surprising that after nearly two decades of playing soccer, Lloyd understands the game on a deeper level than many other athletes.“When you’re a younger player, you just go out and you run around, and you do things a little bit more instinctually rather than studying the game, learning the game,” she says. As she progressed, Lloyd began to approach the field more tactically: studying film of past competitions to see how and where she could improve.In doing so, Lloyd believes her game is coming together in a more effortless way.“I can see where I want to go with the ball, two, three steps ahead, versus when I was a younger player—you’re not processing that as quickly,” Lloyd says. “So in that regard, it’s become a little bit easier. With experience and with all the games under my belt, I’ve had a lot of practice and been in different situations where I can adapt and figure out the best position to be in.”5. Use setbacks as motivation.Despite all of Lloyd’s accomplishments and accolades on the field, no one is ever guaranteed on a team as competitive as the USWNT. Lloyd has always identified as an underdog—and so she trains like one.That hard-nosed work ethic stems back to her on-the-field trials earlier in her career. In 2003, she was cut from the U.S. U-21 national team, as she wrote in The Players’ Tribune in 2019. (An “under 21 years of age” team is designed primarily for the development of soccer players who might one day play on the national team.) In 2009, a year after scoring the game-winning goal in the Olympic final, her U.S. Soccer contract wasn’t renewed. In 2011, she missed a penalty kick in the World Cup final against Japan and had to prove herself yet again.“So we worked 10 times harder,” Lloyd wrote of setbacks in The Players’ Tribune piece.For each hurdle she’s faced, Lloyd has returned to the pitch even stronger and more motivated than before.“I think there’s been a lot of people who say, ‘You run too much, you do this too much,’ but it’s been incredibly helpful for me, and it’s made me incredibly fit and I’m still able to play at a high level,” she says. “It’s just about always finding ways to get better.”Related:
Two days before the opening ceremony at the Olympics, Quinn made history as the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Games. On July 21, the OL Reign soccer star played in Canada’s match against Japan, which resulted in a 1-1 draw in Tokyo.Quinn, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, embraced the milestone on Instagram while also acknowledging there is much more work to be done for trans inclusion in sports and beyond. The midfielder came out as transgender in September 2020.“I feel proud seeing ‘Quinn’ up on the lineup and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world,” Quinn, 25, wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. “I feel optimistic for change. Change in the legislature. Change in rules, structures, and mindsets. Mostly, I feel aware of the realities. Trans girls being banned from sports. Trans women facing discrimination and bias while trying to pursue their Olympic dreams. The fight isn’t close to over….and I’ll celebrate when we’re all here.”Quinn’s call for action comes at a time in the U.S. when anti-trans legislation is on the rise. In June, the governor of Florida signed a law banning transgender girls from joining girls’ sports teams in schools and colleges. The law is one of 13 anti-trans bills conservative U.S. lawmakers have passed this year, and one of more than 110 proposed bills, according to The Guardian.At the same time, though, there have been some steps toward progress in sport. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is also slated to make Olympic history as the first openly transgender athlete at the Summer Games on a team that matches her gender identity when she begins competition in the women’s 87+kg weight class on August 2. (According to NBC Sports, transgender women have been eligible to compete at the Olympics since 2004, and the International Olympic Committee most recently updated its guidelines for inclusion in 2015.) Over 157 LGBTQ+ athletes will participate in the Tokyo Games, a huge increase from the 56 who competed in 2016 and the 23 in 2012, GLAAD says. Since coming out last fall, Quinn, who helped Canada win bronze in the 2016 Games, has been a vocal advocate for increasing acceptance and support for everyone in the trans community.“I want my story to be told because when we have lots of trans visibility, that’s where we start making a movement and start making gains in society,” they told OL Reign in a blog post shortly after the announcement. “At the same time, I think there’s such a responsibility for me to uplift the voices of other marginalized trans folks in order to diversify the number of trans stories that the general audience is hearing.”As for what comes next? Quinn and the rest of the Canada Women’s National Team are scheduled to play Chile on July 24. Here’s how to watch all the Olympic events, whether you’re looking for television or streaming options. You can also follow @SELFmagazine on Instagram for highlights, recaps, and updates throughout the Games. Related:
One question that might be on people’s minds as they tune into the Tokyo Olympics: Are Olympic athletes vaccinated? When it comes to Team USA, a significant number of athletes competing in the Tokyo Olympics are unvaccinated against COVID-19, the chief medical director of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) revealed in a press conference on Friday. Jonathan Finnoff, D.O., said he estimated that 83% of the 613 athletes on Team USA are vaccinated, which means that about 100 U.S. Olympians are unvaccinated, the Associated Press reports. “83% is actually a substantial number and we’re quite happy with it,” Dr. Finnoff told reporters, shortly before the Tokyo Games opening ceremonies. Dr. Finnoff said that the 83% vaccination rate estimation is based on health history questionnaires that 567 of the 613 U.S. athletes competing in the Tokyo Games submitted to the USOPC prior to arriving in Japan, according to the AP. Only 92% of the team shared their vaccination status, so the survey data are incomplete but still represent the vast majority of the team. It’s not clear how Team USA’s vaccination rate compares to that of Olympic teams from other countries because that data is not publicly available. With vaccine availability and vaccination rates differing from country to country, it’s likely there is a lot of variation from team to team (and sport to sport, for that matter), even with increased access for athletes compared to the general public. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) expects that about 85% of all athletes and staff in the Olympic Village are vaccinated, putting the U.S. in line with the overall vaccination rate. But that 85% estimate is based on the numbers that countries have reported to the IOC, and has not been independently verified, the AP notes.Dr. Finnoff said that the USOPC is not treating vaccinated and unvaccinated athletes any differently. “The best thing to do is to assume everyone’s at risk, and reduce risk by introducing COVID mitigation measures that we know work,” he said. Those COVID-19 safety protocols including daily testing for the virus, temperature checks, symptom screening, mandated mask-wearing, minimizing physical contact and interactions with others, and tight restrictions on where athletes can go in Tokyo. That’s in addition to the ban on spectators and international travelers (including athletes’ family members). Despite these measures, more COVID-19 cases keep popping up at the Olympics. So far, the IOC has reported 13 positive tests for COVID-19 among Olympics athletes, according to the AP. This week, the total number of all Olympics-related cases (including staff, coaches, and media) rose to 106, Reuters reports. That includes three U.S. athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19. Tennis player Cori “Coco” Gauff announced on July 18 that would no longer be competing in the Games after testing positive for COVID-19. On July 19, reports emerged that gymnast Kara Eaker had also tested positive. This week, volleyball player Taylor Crabb shared that he would have to miss the Games after getting a positive COVID-19 test. Both Eaker and Crabb said they were vaccinated and did not have symptoms, making them rare breakthrough infections, while Gauff has not specified whether or not she is vaccinated or experiencing symptoms. The degree to which COVID-19 will continue to impact the Tokyo Games is not clear. But with the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus continuing to spread, an unknown but apparently substantial number of individuals at the Olympics not vaccinated, and reports of breakthrough infections continuing to emerge, we’re likely to see more and more cases of COVID-19 emerge. Related:
Editor’s Note: We’ve updated this story to reflect that the rose gold version of this all-star bra is currently on markdown for 35% off during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, with sizes 32HH to 42HH still available.As someone with a 34I bra size, who was mistakenly walking around with a size 38DD bra for a good chunk of her life, I can definitively say that finding a well-fitting bra is a must. One of my absolute pet peeves with bras that aren’t fitted properly or simply aren’t designed with larger busts in mind, is when the cups literally runneth over.But in my search for a bra that would help my set of twins live their best (and most elevated) lives, I was fortunate enough to come across the Matilda Underwire Plunge Bra by Elomi. Elomi is a U.K.-based brand that definitively gets it: Its bras are designed with large busts and curvier body types in mind (many of their bra options start at 34DD and extend to size 48H), which is why this full-figure bra fits me like a glove. I never thought I’d say that I had a holy-grail favorite bra, but after wearing this one my boobs officially have a comfortable place to call home—for eight hours a day, at least.Since the brand is based in the U.K., it might be a little trickier to find the equivalent American size for you. Fortunately, I had in-person assistance from an Elomi fitting expert, but if you’re unsure, Elomi has a handy sizing chart on its website that helps U.S. shoppers find their coordinating sizes. Although technically a 34G would typically be my U.K. size equivalent, I was told that a 34GG actually fit best (so you may want to size up).Here are some initial thoughts after owning this bra for six months: The bra is made with an underwire that feels supportive, but not restrictively so. There’s no prodding or poking around my rib cage, and I can wear it all day long without wanting to rip it off for something more comfortable once I get home. Unlike other bras that squeeze or dig, I always feel confident while wearing this one with fitted tops and sweaters, particularly since I know I’ll be sitting at attention instead of unintentionally drooping (which is the absolute worst). The bra is also designed with a J-hook option—like my favorite sports bras—that allows me to switch up its fit according to my outfit needs (during the summer, this feature really comes in handy when I wear racer-back tops), or when I want extra security.Experts usually recommend hand-washing bras to help them maintain their original shape, but I’ve found that the Matilda is durable enough for me to throw it in the washing machine, on a delicate cycle setting, without having to worry about it not fitting the same way. I’ve washed it probably 10 times at this point, and never run into any issues with stretching or shrinking. I love it so much that I went ahead and ordered it in almost every color available—I own three at this point—and have been able to kiss the dreaded double-boob issues of the past goodbye.I’m not suggesting that this is the only bra I’ll ever wear for the rest of my life, amen, but I am saying it’s giving a lot of others a run for their money. A word of caution to friends and family members: Don’t be surprised if you see the Matilda bra on my birthday list this year—I’m still missing one in the nude color, “Cafe.”Elomi Matilda Underwire Plunge BraThis full cup bra features an underwire, embroidered trim detailing, and an optional J-hook closure for maximum support when you need it most.
T.M.: Any child with cold or flu symptoms should not be participating, period. With that assumption, I would say that outdoor sports and activities don’t pose a huge risk, but that masking should be maintained if exertion levels permit. As with everything else, nothing is zero risk. Is it safe for my kids to participate in indoor sports or activities, like basketball or indoor swimming? What can they do to stay safe?T.S.: I would look at local levels of spread and the size and ventilation of indoor locations. A very large location with good airflow, like a gymnasium with fans and open doors and a small number of people, would be less risky than a small workout room with minimal ventilation and lots of people. Masks are still recommended if indoors. T.M.: For indoor sports and activities, I would recommend masking as much as possible, recognizing that some activities like swimming are impractical. Where masking isn’t feasible, distancing is helpful. For sports like basketball which cannot be done without close contact, the team culture will probably dictate the risk, but things like masking while on the bench can help.Like school, summer camps are filled with mostly unvaccinated kids, but many activities are outdoors. Is there any way my kids can safely go to summer camp?S.O.: Yes, as long as they wear a mask indoors. It’s always a good idea to encourage outside activities anyway in these situations.T.S.: An outdoor day camp would be less risky than an extended overnight camp, with large groups of kids from different areas crowded into bunks together. Ask the camps what mitigation measures they have in place, if meals would be outdoors or inside in a crowded cafeteria, and what happens during rainy days. T.M.: In general, I think summer camps appear to be pretty safe based both on data from last summer and what we are seeing this summer. This is a situation where the child development benefits are huge, and so I’m really in favor of kids going to camps so long as some degree of masking and distancing can be maintained. Having the activities in well-ventilated and outdoor spaces certainly helps.Can kids safely go into crowded indoor areas like movie theaters or children’s gyms, as long as they wear a mask?S.O.: If you’re unvaccinated it’s not a great idea to do these super crowded activities. For the vaccinated it’s perfectly fine, but I would still recommend wearing a mask if you don’t know everyone’s vaccination status.T.S.: The CDC puts crowded indoor activities as their highest-risk category (“least safe”), which includes movie theaters. Risk can be reduced if everyone is masked, but space and ventilation are also key. I know some movie theaters are renting out spaces for private movies; perhaps something like this could be done instead. T.M.: It’s all about balancing risks. For indoor venues, it’s all about density. Low-density indoor activities where people are masked are higher risk than not going, but lower risk than if the venue is packed. What about having an indoor playdate with just a couple of other unvaccinated kids whose parents are vaccinated? Do my kids still need to wear a mask?T.S.: I am keeping my child masked when he is indoors with friends and trying to maximize time outdoors instead. But again, this is something that can vary depending on local transmission levels, and the exposures to other children and their parents. T.M.: I’m in favor of playdates for the same reasons as the other activities. I think so long as there are no symptomatic children, then unmasked activities are not unreasonable. I think it’s impractical to keep kids in a playdate masked the whole time anyway, and so long as the numbers are controlled it is not unreasonable. As with everything, outdoor activities might be a good way to reduce risk, but it’s about balance.