Athletics: USA Track and Field calls for Olympics postponement

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – USA Track and Field (USATF), the governing body of American athletics, on Saturday (March 21) called for a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

The federation, in a letter to United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) chief executive Sarah Hirshland, asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Games which are scheduled to run from July 24-Aug 9.

“We certainly understand the ramifications of this request, and the realities of trying to coordinate the logistics of a postponed Olympic Games around the schedules of other athletes, sport federations, key stakeholders etc, but the alternative of moving forward in light of the current global situation would not be in the best interest of our athletes (as difficult as that decision might be),” USATF chief executive Max Siegel said in the letter.

The U.S. track and field federation joined another leading U.S. Olympic sport, USA Swimming, in seeking a delay to the Games.

Neither U.S. Olympic officials nor the IOC were immediately available for comment on USATF’s request.

The U.S. committee said on Friday that athletes should continue their preparations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the IOC has pressed on during the health crisis, saying the Games will go ahead as scheduled.

The issue has sharply divided athletes globally and USATF said no decision should be made at the expense of the safety and well-being of our athletes.

“We acknowledge that there are no perfect answers, and that this is a very complex and difficult decision, but this position (to postpone the Games) 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,” it said.

“We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes.”

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