The US Track and Field Federation on Saturday (March 21) urged the International Olympic Committee to postpone the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in view of the novel coronavirus pandemic gripping the entire world.
Max Siegel, the CEO of USA Track & Field wrote a letter to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to push the IOC for taking firm steps in postponing the Summer Games.
However, despite growing criticism to cancel or defer the multi-nation event, IOC president Thomas Bach to date has remained firm to kick-off the Tokyo Games as scheduled on July 24.
In the letter to USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland, Seigel said that USATF’s top priority has always been the health and safety of athletes, coaches, staff and volunteer leaders and as the global pandemic grows they are working hard to remain in close contact with the board of directors, constituent leadership, key stakeholders and sponsors to address their concerns and maintain steady communication in this rapidly changing environment.
He said, “As we have learned our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness is among our highest priorities. The right and responsible thing to do is 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 preparation.”
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“We acknowledge that there are no perfect answers, and that this is 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 wrote in the letter shared on social media on Saturday morning.
USATF’s move comes a day after the USA Swimming wrote to the USPOC about postponing the Summer Games as “the right and responsible thing to do.”
Last week, USATF and TrackTown USA organizers announced that the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials set for June 19-28 in Eugene, Ore. would remain on schedule but the coronavirus pandemic would continue to be monitored. The eight days of competition will determine the athletes who will go on to compete at the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, reported Sports Illustrated.