Megan Rapinoe Thinks 2021 Olympics Could Be Postponed Amid COVID-19

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

FRISCO, TEXAS - MARCH 11:  Megan Rapinoe #15 of the United States during the national anthem before the 2020 SheBelieves Cup match against Japan at Toyota Stadium on March 11, 2020 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

United States soccer star Megan Rapinoe is preparing for the possibility that the Olympics, already postponed until the summer of 2021, could be delayed again because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Appearing on The Axe Files podcast with CNN's David Axelrod, Rapinoe explained she thinks "the Olympics are in doubt next year" because of the difficulty of bringing together athletes from all around the world. 

"The more I think about it logistically, just bringing everybody together like that with the absence of drug therapies or anything like that just seems difficult," she said. 

The International Olympic Committee announced March 24 that the 2020 Tokyo Games, scheduled to begin on July 24, were being postponed amid the pandemic. 

On March 30, Tokyo organizers announced the Olympics would begin with the opening ceremony July 23, 2021.

The IOC said in the announcement the new start date will give "health authorities and all involved in the organisation of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, told Nikkan Sports (h/t CBC.ca) in late April that the Olympics will be canceled if the event can't be held next year. 

On the same day, president of Japan's medical association Yoshitake Yokokura told reporters that developing a vaccine or effective drugs to combat COVID-19 will be instrumental in determining whether the Olympics can take place. 

"If the infections are under control in Japan, it will still be difficult to hold the games unless the pandemic is over in the rest of the world," Yokokura said. 

Per David D. Kirkpatrick of the New York Times, researchers at Oxford University have begun testing a vaccine in people that could become available as early as September if it's proven to be effective. 

Some health experts have expressed doubt that a previous 12-18-month timetable to develop a vaccine is realistic. 

Rapinoe told Axelrod any further delays could mean she has already played her last Olympics for the USWNT: "If it happens that, you know, we can't play sports for or a number of years or whatever it may be, you know, this situation will be what it is. And I think we'll be at peace with that."

If Rapinoe plays in the Games next summer, it will be her third appearance with the United States. She helped the Americans win the gold medal in 2012 with a 2-1 victory over Japan in the final.