The American opinion to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games has grown louder than ever, now buttressed by the influential voice of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The organization cited its own internal polling of US Olympic hopefuls, finding that roughly two-third of athletes have already found their training severely impacted or altogether stopped because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition to many private training facilities, colleges, and universities now closed to Olympic athletes, US Olympic and Paralympic training centers in Lake Placid, New York, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, are also now closed.
As a result, the USOPC is now advocating for a delay to the Games.
“It’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising, and we encourage the IOC to take all the needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors,” said USOPC chair Suzanne Lyons and CEO Sarah Hirshland in a joint statement.
The USOPC’s stance follows that of several of the US’s largest individual national governing bodies. USA Track and Field and USA Swimming over the weekend also called for a postponement, and those two groups have since been joined by USA Gymnastics, collectively representing three of the largest and prominent Olympic sports in the country.
The USOPC had comparatively come under some fire for not initially being as vocal in also pushing for a delay to the 2020 Games. And just three days ago, Lyons and Hirshland said it was “premature to make a final call on the date of the Games,” a stance that very soon would stand in sharp contrast from the growing set of NGB statements pushing for postponement.
But the USOPC also said it was taking time to gather data from nearly 1,800 athletes on their current training conditions and overall sentiments regarding the upcoming Olympics. That data also showed that less than 10 per cent of respondents felt they could continue to train in their respective sports without any adverse impact due to the public health crisis.
“Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls, and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner,” Lyons and Hirshland said.
Sixty-eight per cent of respondents to the USOPC survey also said they did not think the Tokyo Games could be fairly competed if continued as originally scheduled.
While the USOPC, or any individual NGB in the country, does not singularly sway what the IOC will ultimately do, the American voice still looms very large. The US sends more athletes to the Games than any other nation, has hosted more Olympics than any other country, and is a major source of media and corporate sponsorship revenue for the entire Olympic movement. “We regret that there is no outcome that can solve all the concerns we face,” Lyons and Hirshland said.