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Unvaccinated CrossFit Athletes Face Difficult Decision as Questions Persist about CrossFit’s Handling of Semifinals Seeding

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jordy Gremillion
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American Jordy Gremillion now finds himself with an incredibly difficult decision if he wants to continue his season in hopes of making the 2022 CrossFit Games.

Gremillion, who finished 121st in the Quarterfinals for North America, is the first to admit that making the actual Games is a long shot, however he never figured he would find himself in the position he is in now either. The Lafayette, LA affiliate owner said the only option remaining in front of him is a ticket to the Atlas Games, which takes place June 10-12 in Montreal, Canada.

Anyone traveling to Canada by air or land is required, by the Canadian government, to be vaccinated. Exemptions are permitted, however they are incredibly rare and require the person to quarantine for up to two weeks on their own dime. Gremillion said he was emailed a mandatory survey from CrossFit after the Quarterfinals where he was asked about his travel restrictions and he said he was quite clear in his response to CrossFit.

“It didn’t ask whether or not you were vaccinated,” said Gremillion. “But I did say that I was not vaccinated, and that is just a personal choice. I’m not trying to get into a political debate at all, that is just my choice… this is not a religious thing or I’m not making a stand or anything like that, I just chose not to get it, and there doesn’t seem to be a need for me to get it now anyways, other than for this.” 

Gremillion said a number of decisions from CrossFit about Semifinals are confusing to him, one of them being why Canadian Brent Fikowski is going to the Granite Games, June 3-5 in Eagen, MN. Gremillion said he has nothing against Fikowski or any other athlete, however wonders why CrossFit appears to be playing favorites with the elites and leaving some of the “bubble” athletes with difficult decisions.  

On the Talking Elite Fitness podcast on April 21, Director of Competition, Adrian Bozman, clarified that “the first thing we did was try to distribute rank evenly in North America and Europe, obviously you don’t want one Semifinal that’s got a ton of competitive athletes and another region that is less competitive.”

Bozman continued, stating that other factors included ability to travel across borders (including things like vaccine status and visa/passport status) and personal preference. But he clarified that visa/passport and preference were considered far lower than rank and government mandates.

Gremillion has accepted his invitation to the Atlas Games as a backfill, however now faces a conundrum in continuing his season. He is not the only one. In a similar predicament is Will Bennett, who came 125th in North America for the Quarterfinals, four spots behind Gremillion.

Bennett, who lives and trains out of Northeast Louisiana, said he is not vaccinated, however the main issue he has is that now it seems errors with workout 3 are complicating his potential chance to attend a Semifinal, due to the fact that he was also only offered the Atlas Games as a backfill option. 

“That’s kind of the frustrating part for me,” said Bennett. “I’m not really mad about the Semifinal stuff because if they would have handled their stuff with the Quarterfinal situation then everything would have played out and been normal. I mean don’t have an online competition if you can’t run it, that’s my perspective.”

“It feels like we’re all held to a high standard and there is no wiggle room, and CrossFit can just do whatever they want.”

Jordy Gremillion

“Why wouldn’t you just have all the Canadians going to the Canadian Semifinal and the US guys going to all the US Semifinals. So I really didn’t think it applied to me (the survey), because I thought the questions were more about someone who was going to have to travel internationally, and I’m an American competitor thinking I will just be competing in America anyways. But then maybe that’s my fault.”  

On the Talking Elite Fitness podcast, Bozman stated that the primary goal in the seeding process was to make sure that each field was even in terms of athlete ranking. For example, when Mal O’Brien indicated that she couldn’t travel across the border, there was a question whether or not she could be reseeded fairly, but once Olivia Kerstetter (another top-10 female athlete) decided to go age group, O’Brien was able to be reseeded. 

“I paid all my fees, I followed all the rules, turned in all of my videos on time and followed all the standards, “said Gremillion. “It feels like we’re all held to a high standard and there is no wiggle room and CrossFit can just do whatever they want. There are no major consequences for people who messed up workout 3 but there are major consequences for guys like me now on the cutline.” 

“After all that workout 3 stuff, I didn’t say too much about it because I thought I would still get a backfill invitation,” said Gremillion. “So all good, I guess I kind of shrugged it off. But now where I’m getting a backfill invite and they’re telling me (the Atlas Games) is your only option, now the workout 3 situation is magnified because I should have never been in the backfill invitation in the first place.”

While there are still options available and possible scenarios in which Gremillion and Bennett get backfilled into a North American Semifinal, it’s clear that frustrations are high. “For guys like us, the Semifinals are the CrossFit Games,” said Gremillion. “And it means a lot.”

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