The Olympics revolt is here.
USA Track and Field joined USA Swimming on Friday in calling for a postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games — stubbornly still scheduled to begin in late July — and in pressuring the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to use its considerable international sway to advocate for a delay due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
“We certainly understand the ramifications of this request, and the realities of trying to coordinate the logistics of a postponed Olympic Games around the schedules of other athletes, sport federations, key stakeholders, etc., but the alternative of moving forward in light of the current global situation would not be in the best interest of our athletes (as difficult as that decision might be),” read a letter signed by USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel.
It remains in question whether the individual sport governing bodies would act on their own — without sign-off from the USOPC — and stay home.
Track and swimming accounted for 65 of America’s 121 medals and 175 of its 554 athletes at the last Summer Games. The leader of the third sport that makes up the backbone of the Olympics — gymnastics — has sent a survey to athletes, asking for their thoughts on what the USA Gymnastics stance should be.
The US Olympic federation has remained reluctant to use its leverage — the US brings the largest contingent to every Summer Games, wins the most medals and attracts billions in broadcast rights from NBC — in talks with the International Olympic Committee.
“The decision about the games does not lie directly with us,” USOPC board chair Susanne Lyons said in a conference call with reporters Friday. “It lies with WHO, the Japanese government and the IOC. Under no circumstance would the USOPC send athletes into harm’s way if didn’t think it was safe.”
The national federations in Norway and Brazil have gone further, each going public with requests to postpone.
“Our clear recommendation is that the Olympic Games in Tokyo shall not take place before the COVID-19 situation is under firm control on a global scale,” Norway’s federation wrote in a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach.
— With AP