USA Track & Field has joined USA Swimming in requesting that the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee push for the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In a letter dated Friday, USATF chief executive officer Max Siegel acknowledged “the ramifications of this request” and the potential challenges of rescheduling the Games. But he wrote that the alternative, of trudging ahead, “would not be in the best interest of our athletes.”
“We acknowledge that there are no perfect answers, and that this is a very complex and difficult decision,” Siegel wrote in the letter. “But this position at least provides our athletes with the comfort of knowing that they will have adequate time to properly prepare themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to be able to participate in a safe and successful Olympic Games, and that they can shift their focus toward taking care of themselves and their families.
“We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes.”
USATF’s letter echoes a similar sentiment made by USA Swimming on Friday afternoon. Together, the governing bodies represent arguably two of the most popular Olympic sports in the United States — and a significant portion of the nation’s Olympic delegation. Of the 558 U.S. athletes at the 2016 Summer Olympics, 176 competed in either swimming or track and field.
USA Gymnastics, the third major governing bohas sent a letter to its Olympic hopefuls, asking for their thoughts on the fate on the Tokyo Games. The responses, which will be anonymous, are due Monday, and CEO and president Li Li Leung said they will dictate USAG’s message to the USOPC.
“We want to ensure that their voice comes through in our advocacy, and particularly on this important topic,” Leung said.
There is mounting pressure on Olympic leaders to postpone the Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus outbreak — and mounting pressure now on the USOPC to advocate a stance to that effect. USOPC chief executive officer Sarah Hirshland and board chair Susanne Lyons have, to this point, preached patience, explaining on a conference call earlier Friday that the coronavirus situation could still change over the next four months.
Contributing: Nancy Armour
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.