The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has released the results of a survey sent to 4,000 athletes and endorsed postponement as the “most promising” path forward regarding the fate of the 2020 Olympic Games.
“We are now confident that we have heard a wide range of viewpoints and understand the diversity of challenges our athletes face. We regret that there is no outcome that can solve all the concerns we face,” CEO Sarah Hirshland and USOPC Chair Susanne Lyons said in a statement. “Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner. To that end, it’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising, and we encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors. We look forward to their feedback and direction, and stand ready to work in support of Team USA and in full cooperation with the global community.”
The USOPC received answers from more than 1,780 athletes from 59 of the 63 summer Olympics sports; track and field put up 609 athlete responses, and rowing had the second-highest rate of response with 140.
Overall, 92.73% of athletes surveyed preferred postponement to outright cancellation of the Games. Some written-in responses expressed concerns about “not being able to compete at a postponed or future Games because of age, preparation requirements, or other life commitments (i.e. school, work, family, etc.).”
In regards to why the Games should not be held as scheduled, a majority of respondents cited an inability to train consistently. Nearly two-thirds of athletes felt that continuing to train would put their health at risk (or they weren’t sure if it could put their health at risk); 87% of athletes cited local regulations as affecting their training and 43% cited personal concerns affecting their training.
Twenty-five percent of athletes reported they currently cannot train at all, as shown below.
Friday, USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey penned a letter to the USOPC urging it to advocated for postponement. Since then, a number of National Olympic Committees have expressed support for postponing, or said they would not bring athletes to Tokyo as scheduled.
The International Olympic Committee responded Sunday by saying it would make a decision in four weeks. Monday, IOC member Dick Pound said that the decision to postpone had already been made and that details would come to light in the coming weeks.