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AFP
March 22, 2020

US athletics body calls for Olympic postponement

Sports

AFP
March 22, 2020

LOS ANGELES: United States athletics’ governing body joined calls for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed on Saturday, urging US Olympic chiefs to push for the Games to be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), USA Track and Field chief Max Siegel said forging ahead with Olympic preparations "would not be in the best interest of our athletes."

The USATF call for a postponement echoed a similar request by USA Swimming on Friday after the USOPC said it was too soon to postpone the July 24-August 9 Games. Siegel urged the USOPC to support a postponement, citing the health and safety of athletes as well as disruption to training and competition schedules caused by the Covid-19 crisis. "Our athletes are under tremendous pressure stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness is among our highest priorities," Siegel said.

"The right and responsible thing to do is to prioritize everyone’s health and safety and appropriately recognize the toll this difficult situation has, and continues to take, on our athletes and their Olympic Games preparations.

"For those reasons, USATF is respectfully requesting that the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) advocate to the IOC for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo."

Siegel acknowledged that there "were no perfect answers" to what was a "very complex and difficult decision." "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," he said. "We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes."

On Friday, USOPC chairwoman Susanne Lyons said there was no need for the IOC to make an immediate decision on a possible postponement of the Tokyo games, insisting that organisers had time on their side. "I think we would concur with the IOC to say that we need more expert advice and information than we have today to make a decision," Lyons said. "And we don’t have to make a decision. Our games are not next week, or two weeks from now. They’re four months from now. "So we are affording the IOC the opportunity to gather that information and expert advice’’.