Governments, Sports Bodies Grapple With Coronavirus Impact on Olympics

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Mar. 22, 2020

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Athletes Advisory Council described as “an important step” the move by the International Olympic Committee to consider postponing the Tokyo Games. U.S. Swimming and U.S. Track and Field had already called for a delay in the Games, scheduled to start July 24.

Australia took a strong approach, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying Monday the country’s indefinite worldwide travel ban would apply to Olympic athletes if it remained in effect at the time of the Games. Norway’s Olympic Committee sent a letter to the IOC asking that the Olympics not go on until the pandemic is under control.

The United States has a major role in the Olympics, typically with the largest team and atop the medals table as well as NBC television network paying US$1.45/€1.36 billion for broadcast rights for Tokyo.

USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland and USOPC AAC Chair Han Xiao said in a joint statement: “Having spent countless hours communicating with IOC leadership, our peers around the world, our NGBs (national governing bodies) and the athletes we serve, we know the difficult obstacles ahead and we are all appreciative that the IOC has heard our concerns and needs, and is working to address them as quickly as possible.

“Every day counts. We remain steadfast in our recommendation that Team USA athletes continue to heed the advice of public health officials and prioritize their health and wellness over all else. At the same time we are eager to continue to explore alternatives to ensure all athletes have a robust and fulfilling Olympic and Paralympic experience, regardless of when that can safely occur.”

Dressage, eventing and jumping are Olympic sports. Fifteen nations have qualified teams of three rider and horse combinations and 15 individual pairs