USA Track & Field is urging the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee to push to postpone the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The group is following the lead of USA Swimming, which also wants the International Olympic Committee to seek a postponement because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Summer Games are set for July 24 to Aug. 9, with the Paralympics to follow.
Max Siegel, the chief executive officer of USATF, said in a letter dated Friday that holding the Games as scheduled “would not be in the best interest of our athletes.”
“We acknowledge that there are no perfect answers, and that this is a very complex and difficult decision,” Siegel wrote in the letter addressed to Sarah Hirshland, the CEO of the United States’ committee. “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.
“We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes.”
Combined, swimming and track and field athletes made up nearly one-third of the 558 participants for the United States in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
On Tuesday, the IOC reiterated plans to move forward with the Olympics, and stated that athletes should “continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as best they can.”
That is proving to be difficult under the circumstances as U.S. training centers in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Lake Placid, N.Y., are closed due to the outbreak.
Earlier Friday, USOPC board chairman Susanne Lyons said the entity isn’t the one that will make the decision.
Also Saturday, Brazil’s Olympic Committee said in a statement that the Games should be pushed back to 2021. The Norwegian Olympic Committee also expressed similar sentiments in a letter addressed to IOC president Thomas Bach: “Our clear recommendation is that the Olympic Games in Tokyo shall not take place before the COVID-19 situation is under firm control on a global scale.”
Additionally, Indian table tennis star Sharath Kamal — poised to compete in his fourth Olympics — called for the Games’ postponement following his win last week at the ITTF Oman Open.
“I don’t see the scenario being safe for the Olympics to start on time,” the 37-year-old told ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” from his home, where he has been in self-quarantine since Monday.
“Everyone is talking about social distancing, but it is one thing which won’t be possible at the Olympics. Thousands of athletes would be staying in the same village.”
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)