USA Swimming has asked the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee to advocate for postponing the 2020 Olympics in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization told SwimSwam. CEO Tim Hinchey sent USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland a letter Friday laying out the situation, asking for a one-year postponement.
“As a leader to our 400,000 members and many of the world’s top Olympic champions, I feel compelled to speak out about the pending Olympic Games in Tokyo in July 2020,” Hinchey wrote. “The right and responsible thing to do is to prioritize everyone’s health and safety and appropriately recognize the toll this global pandemic is taking on athletic preparations. It has transcended borders and wreaked havoc on entire populations, including those of our respected competitors. Everyone has experienced unimaginable disruptions, mere months before the Olympic Games, which calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all. Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities. It is with the burden of these serious concerns that we respectfully request that the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee advocate for the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 by one year.”
“We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes,” Hinchey concluded.
The letter was sent after holding a conference call with the U.S. National Team to update swimmers on the situation, Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde reported.
USA Swimming published the letter in full on Twitter:
USA Swimming respectfully requests that the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee advocate for the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. pic.twitter.com/q5bhUwi05q
— USA Swimming (@USASwimming) March 20, 2020
The ask comes as numerous national governing bodies around the world have been forced to postpone or cancel their Olympic trials, while the Internationa Olympic Committee largely maintained it would move forward with planning for the Games as scheduled. In a conference call Friday morning, the USOPC said that it would follow the IOC’s lead.
Thursday, United States Olympian Jacob Pebley penned a lengthy Instagram post calling on USA Swimming to postpone Olympic Trials and ask the USOPC to work on postponing the Olympics. His sentiment was widely lauded among athletes (and coaches) who are experiencing significant disruptions to their training cycles as pools are shuttering and checkpoint competitions are being canceled.