USA Swimming Asks U.S. Olympic Committee to Push For Postponement of 2020 Summer Olympics, Team USA Responds

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo are just four months away, and USA Swimming has asked its national Olympic and Paralympic committee to advocate for a one-year postponement. In response, the national committee said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is polling nations to make any future determinations before a big board meeting next week.

USA Swimming is one of the most dominant forces in every Olympic cycle—regardless of country or sport—and this quad should be no different with returning veteran stars like Katie Ledecky on the women's side, Caleb Dressel on the men's team and a slew of young swimmers looking to make their marks.

Tim Hinchey III, the CEO of USA Swimming, penned a letter to Sarah Hirshland, who is CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), saying safety is paramount for its swimmers looking to qualify for the Tokyo Games, and that they seek a level playing field while swimmers are trying to find places and times to train for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials. This comes as the world has reached a pandemic level with the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.

"Everyone has experienced unimaginable disruptions, mere months before the Olympic Games, which calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all," Hinchey wrote. He went on to ask the USOPC to consider pushing for a one-year postponement of the 2020 Summer Games. "There are no perfect answers, and this will not be easy; however, it is a solution that provides a concrete path forward and allows all athletes to prepare for a safe and successful Olympic Games in 2021."

Hinchey said athletes with USA Swimming are under "tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities."

USA Swimming 2016 Rio Olympics
Katie Ledecky of the United States competes in the Women's 800m Freestyle Final on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images

"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."

The USOPC issued a response Friday evening, saying the overall well-being of USA athletes is paramount, and that the IOC is talking with national committees around the globe before making any updates next week.

"The USOPC has complete and total empathy for the athlete community as they manage the terrible stress and anxiety caused by the current lack of certitude regarding the Tokyo Games," the USOPC stated." We understand that the athletes have concerns about training, qualification and anti-doping controls, and that they want transparency, communication and clarity to the full extent possible."

The national committee said the IOC will have an executive board meeting next week, and that no one wants to suspend or postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics prematurely.

"They believe that it is premature to make a final call on the date of the Games and we believe that we should afford them the opportunity to gather more data and expert advice before insisting that a decision be made," Hirshland and USPOC Chair Susanne Lyons said in the joint statement. "Ahead of the IOC Executive Board meeting next week, the IOC is polling all the NOCs to determine the impacts on training that are occurring. Rest assured we are making your concerns clearly known to them. The USOPC will be leaders in providing accurate advice and honest feedback, and be unfailing advocates of the athletes and their safety, and the necessity of a fair platform for the Games. You have our promise."

Meanwhile, USA Track & Field (USATF) has stated it is working with medical and scientific experts to "advise us on matters related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This Working Group receives regular updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), and other U.S. professional sports leagues."

USA Gymnastics has suspended or canceled all of its sanctioned events through May 10, per its national website.

USA Archery stated that "international qualification events contemplated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic Selection Procedures may be either cancelled or postponed." Though reigning world champion Brady Ellison of the United States would likely be named to Team USA, others on the brink of making the team could be affected.