The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) has now added its voice to the ever-louder chorus of national federations advocating for the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The decisive stance comes after a poll of Team USA hopefuls revealed significant concerns about their ability to train and prepare for the Games, the health and safety of athletes and fans, team selection and qualification, social responsibility and more. (Download the COVID-19 Team USA Athlete Survey results.)
The USOC released the following statement on Monday night:
“We are thankful to the 1,780 Team USA athletes for sharing their voice and honest input with us as we address the issues related to COVID-19 and the Tokyo Games, and make good on our promise to put athletes first. We are now confident that we have heard a wide range of viewpoints and understand the diversity of challenges our athletes face.
“We regret that there is no outcome that can solve all the concerns we face. 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.
“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. We look forward to their feedback and direction, and stand ready to work in support of Team USA and in full cooperation with the global community.”
Canada and Australia have said they will not send athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games unless it is postponed until 2021. Ireland and Great Britain have also indicated that they are considering withdrawal.
New Zealand released a statement this morning supporting postponement as well, reiterating the need for a swift decision:
“New Zealand athletes have long prepared for a July 2020 Olympic Games however the Olympic Movement is founded on humanity and that, right now, must come first.
“As the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, and on behalf of New Zealand’s Olympic athletes, we are asking the IOC to immediately confirm a postponement, using the following four weeks to clarify details.”
On Sunday, the IOC said it was starting to look into scenarios for “modifying” the current plans for the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24. On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conceded that it was possible the games might be postponed, and IOC member Dick Pound stated unofficially that the Games are going to be postponed, likely to 2021.