Nearly 75% of Surveyed Athletes Favor Postponing Tokyo Olympics Amid COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2020

People wearing masks walk past the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The Tokyo Olympics are being threatened by a fast-spreading virus that has shut down most schools, sports competitions and Olympic-related events in Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Almost three-quarters of the 125 American athletes who participated in a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee town hall supported postponing the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, according to USA Today.

The town hall came amid doubt as to whether the Olympics can go on as scheduled during the coronavirus outbreak. More than 267,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across the world, per CNN.

The Olympics are scheduled to begin July 24. The International Olympic Committee announced Sunday its executive board "will step up its scenario-planning" for the 2020 Olympics but that "cancellation is not on the agenda."

IOC President Thomas Bach wrote an open letter Sunday, which said the governing body expects to have made a final ruling on a potential postponement with the next four weeks.

Beyond avoiding the possible health risks the Olympic Games might pose this summer, many argue postponement is the logical move given how much the pandemic has disrupted athletes' training regimens.

States across the country have closed off access to public gyms and pools, thus limiting the options for those preparing for the Games. The U.S. Olympic training facilities in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Lake Placid, New York, are both inaccessible.

USA Swimming issued a statement Friday lobbying the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to push for a delay: "Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities."

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USA Track & Field shared a similar statement Saturday:

The Washington Post's Rick Maese reported five-time gold medalist Katie Ledecky and two-time gold medalist Simone Manuel hadn't trained in the water since Tuesday. COVID-19 forced the closure of Stanford's swimming facilities.

Sam Mikulak, a two-time bronze medalist in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, shared his struggle with USA Today.

"I've had a plan for four years to do Olympic-level routines, and right now I'd have to drop back to my basic routines," he said. "It's really throwing a four-year preparation out the window if they keep doing this."

According to the report, the USOPC sent a questionnaire to 4,000 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls that asked the same questions posed during the town hall.