USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland Says She Will Not Demand 2020 Olympics Be Postponed

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2020

Snow falls on the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium in Tokyo, Saturday, March 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Sarah Hirshland, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, told the Associated Press Sunday that she is not pushing the International Olympic Committee toward a postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games at this time.

"My role is not to make demands of those making decisions, but to bring forward solutions," she said.

"We're hearing from the athletes loud and clear, and I can guarantee you, the IOC is going to hear from us, loud and clear," she added.

Her comments come in the wake of both the USA Swimming and Track & Field committees publicly requesting the USOPC to advocate for a postponement of the Summer Games:

USA Swimming @USASwimming

USA Swimming respectfully requests that the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee advocate for the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. https://t.co/q5bhUwi05q

USATF @usatf


Hirshland said she understood the stance of the Swimming and Track & Field teams:

"Both sports have a very large population, from grassroots to elite athletes, and they need their athletes to know they're being heard," she said. "They want their athletes to know their concerns are being passed on, and I can confirm those concerns are being passed on."

But there is growing momentum for postponement. On Sunday, the Canadian Olympic Committees said its athletes would not participate in the Tokyo Olympics if they were held this summer, while Australia said it was preparing its athletes for a postponed 2021 Games:

CBC News Alerts @CBCAlerts

BREAKING: The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee will refuse to send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if the event is not postponed.The 2020 Games are currently set to begin on July 24. News release: https://t.co/NT8twsqAXI

Nick Zaccardi @nzaccardi

I asked an Australian Olympic Committee spokesperson if this meant they would not send an Olympic team if the Tokyo Games are held in 2020. Response: "The statement is what we are saying," and that the line I quoted is key.

IOC President Thomas Bach said Sunday in a letter addressed to Olympic athletes that the governing body is "working hard" and is "confident that we will have finalized these discussions within the next four weeks."

Also on Sunday, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said postponing the Summer Games was a possibility, though canceling them outright was off the table.

But Hirshland isn't ready to commit to the idea of postponement, or advocate for it, at this time.

"It's really important for us to understand the totality of the environment our athletes are facing," she said. "It's a practical reality that there's no easy answer right now."