One of the few sporting events that hasn’t seen dates get altered during the panic over COVID-19 is the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. While leagues worldwide have decided it’s best to either go on hiatus or end seasons altogether, the International Olympic Committee is steadfast in its desire to hold the festivities in Japan a little later this year.
To be clear, no one on earth wants to see the Olympics postponed or canceled altogether, but with how much uncertainty there is about everything right now, calls have come for the IOC to perhaps push things to next summer. The latest call comes from USA Swimming, which wrote a letter to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee requesting that it uses its influence to speak up on behalf of its athletes and advocate for the 2020 Olympics to occur in 2021.
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
“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,” the letter read.
“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 amount of training that goes into being a world-class swimmer is breathtaking, and that training has hit a major bump in the road with the shutdowns we have seen in the United States from coast-to-coast. For example, two of America’s best swimmers, Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel, have struggled to find pools where they can train in recent days. Seeing as how the current situation is not expected to change any time soon, this could be an issue that persists for the foreseeable future and would make competing at the highest level in July and August brutally difficult, which also assumes that the situation would be markedly better by then and it would be safe for millions upon millions of people to travel to one country.
No one actively wants the Olympics to be pushed back, just like no one wanted the NBA to go on a lengthy hiatus. But if the most important thing is the health and well-being of the athletes, then USA Swimming believes it’s a no-brainer: The Olympics cannot happen this summer.