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21 Mar, 2020 17:11

US Track & Field adds weight to calls for Tokyo Olympics postponement as delay seems increasingly inevitable

US Track & Field adds weight to calls for Tokyo Olympics postponement as delay seems increasingly inevitable

USA Track and Field, the governing body which oversees athletics in the United States, has called on this summer's Tokyo Olympics to be postponed amid concerns for the safety of their athletes in light of the coronavirus crisis.

The body has asked the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to petition the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the games due to open on July 24 and comes days after USA Swimming issued a similar request by asking to delay the Olympics by 12 months.

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"We certainly understand the ramifications of this request, and the realities of trying to coordinate the logistics of a postponed Olympic Games around the schedules of other athletes, sport federations, key stakeholders etc.," USA Track and Field chief executive Max Siegel communicated in a letter to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

"But the alternative of moving forward in light of the current global situation would not be in the best interest of our athletes (as difficult as that decision might be)."

This adds to a growing chorus of voices who say that the games should be postponed as a matter of urgency, so that athletes aren't training in their various disciplines across the globe and potentially putting themselves or others in danger.

UK Athletics have already made a similar request, as has the Olympic Committees of the likes of Brazil, Norway and Slovenia.

Olympic chiefs stated in February that they would consider postponing the Olympics in the name of public health but Dick Pound, a senior member of the IOC, said that they were confident they would be able to push back making a decision until two months out from the start of the games.

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Several former Olympic athletes, including sprinter Michael Johnson, have called for more decisive action to be taken. 

"IOC should communicate the window for deciding on the '20 Olympics," he wrote on social media. "Athletes must keep training but for many there's nowhere to train.

"They may risk their lives and others trying to continue training. Answer isn't just cancel ASAP. But communicate the process to the athletes."

IOC chief Thomas Bach admitted in an interview this week that organizers were "of course considering alternatives" to holding the games on the planned dates.