Coronavirus: United States calls for postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS, AFP) – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Monday (March 23) the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo should be postponed, in the latest setback to the Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee said it had surveyed some 4,000 of its athletes over the weekend and 65 per cent of those that responded indicated their training had been severely impacted or halted entirely due to restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus.

Even if the current health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process cannot be overcome in a satisfactory manner, USOPC officials said.

The US national governing bodies for athletics, swimming and gymnastics – who all boast high global profiles and whose athletes are always a major draw at any Games – have all called for a postponement.

Canadian Olympic officials said on Sunday they would not send a team to Tokyo this summer, urging the IOC to postpone until 2021 while Australian Olympic officials said “it was clear” the Tokyo Games could not go ahead as scheduled and told their athletes to instead prepare for the event in 2021.

“To that end, it’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising,” USOPC board chair Susanne Lyons and chief executive officer Sarah Hirshland said in a statement. “We encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors.”

Earlier on Monday, longtime International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said the IOC had decided to postpone the Games with an eye toward holding them in 2021.

The USOPC statement comes after Canada and Australia said they would not send athletes to the July 24-Aug 9 Games due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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