Sunday 5 April, 2020

Coronavirus: USA Swimming calls for Tokyo Olympics to be postponed

Three-time Olympic gold medalists Tadahiro Nomura, right, and Saori Yoshida light the torch as Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori, left, watches during Olympic Flame Arrival Ceremony at Japan Air Self-Defense Force Matsushima Base in Higashimatsushima in Miyagi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Three-time Olympic gold medalists Tadahiro Nomura, right, and Saori Yoshida light the torch as Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori, left, watches during Olympic Flame Arrival Ceremony at Japan Air Self-Defense Force Matsushima Base in Higashimatsushima in Miyagi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

USA Swimming has requested for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed until 2021, with athletes seeing their worlds "turned upside down" by the coronavirus pandemic.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach says cancelling the Games - which are due to start on July 24 - is not on the agenda, but different scenarios are under consideration.

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The vast majority of sport all over the world has been halted due to COVID-19, which has already claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people.

USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey has now asked for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to push for the Games to be put back a year in such uncertain times. 

"Our top priority at USA Swimming has been, and will continue to be, the health and safety of our athletes, staff, volunteers and other members," Hinchey wrote in a letter.

"As this global pandemic has grown, we have watched our athletes' worlds be turned upside down and watched them struggle to find ways to continue to prepare and train - many for the biggest competitive opportunity of their lives.

"Our world-class swimmers are always willing to race anyone, anytime and anywhere; however, pressing forward amidst the global health crisis this summer is not the answer.

"The right and responsible thing to do is to prioritise everyone's health and safety and appropriately recognise 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."

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