U.S. urges Olympics delay after polling hopefuls

U.S. urges Olympics delay after polling hopefuls

DENVER — Nearly seven in 10 U.S. Olympic hopefuls say they don’t think the Tokyo Games will be fair if they are held in July, prompting leaders of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to conclude that “it’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising.”

The USOPC has come under criticism for not advocating for postponement, which is the position taken by its own sports organizations in swimming, track and gymnastics, along with national committees in Canada, Australia, Brazil and Germany.

Part of the hesitance, CEO Sarah Hirshland said Sunday, was to get a clearer picture from athletes about their training conditions and their feelings. Armed with the data, Hirshland and board chair Susanne Lyons put out their strongest statement to date.

“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,” they said in a joint statement. “To that end, it’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising, and we encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors.”

Over the weekend, the USOPC sent a survey to more than 4,000 athletes for details on how the coronavirus pandemic has influenced their training and their feelings about the upcoming games. The committee received responses from 1,780.

Of the respondents, 69% said they would feel comfortable competing in July if the World Health Organization — one of the groups consulting with the IOC — deemed it safe. But virtually that same number — 68% — said they didn’t think the Olympics would be fair under those circumstances.

The main reason for that has been the massive disruption in training schedules as athletes prepare for qualifying events this spring and summer.

With city and state governments closing gyms and asking people to stay in their homes, fewer than one in 10 of the athletes said they can continue to train without any impact. Further, 65% said that continuing to train and prepare would put their health at risk.

The calls for postponement are growing seemingly by the hour, and by Monday evening, it seemed certain that postponement will happen.

Craig Reedie, an IOC member, told The Associated Press that conditions in Japan and worldwide “clearly indicates the likelihood of postponement.” A decision will be made within four weeks, with IOC President Thomas Bach guiding the outcome.

Bach has taken the idea of a full cancellation off the board, and the American athletes agreed with that view: 93% said they preferred postponing to canceling.

Published at Tue, 24 Mar 2020 01:27:05 +0000

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