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USA Swimming call for Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be postponed

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

19:36 20 Mar 2020

USA Swimming have called for this year's Summer Olympic Games to be postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Games are still scheduled to commence as planned on July 24, but International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has conceded that they're "considering different scenarios".

In a New York Times interview, Bach said that "cancellation is not on the agenda", despite the rest of the worldwide sporting calendar being torn asunder by the coronavirus.

Sport Ireland Chief Executive John Treacy has called for Tokyo 2020 to be postponed, but the statement from USA Swimming may eventually carry more weight.

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the United States won 33 swimming medals, ten more than their nearest competitors Australia.

Of those 33 medals, 16 were gold and 5 of those were won (or won in part) by Michael Phelps.

Indeed, Phelps' name was one of those highlighted in a post-Olympic brief in 2016 that showed US broadcast rights holder NBC had averaged 27.5million viewers for Olympic competition - the second highest audience for a non-US summer games.

In 2014, NBC paid $7.5billion to secure the rights for the next six Olympiad, through to 2032.

Viewership figures in the US tend to dip when American athletes are not performing well, as evidenced by the 2018 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

So, should USA Swimming press the nuclear button and decide not to send its swimmers to Tokyo that could lead to NBC putting pressure on the IOC in order to prevent a loss on its investment.

USA Today report that USA Swimming's CEO Tim Hinchey has written to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland to say he has "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."

USA Swimming has cancelled all its sanctioned events through to the end of April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hinchey's letter to Hirshland continues, "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.

"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.

"We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes."

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Read more about

Comcast IOC International Olympic Committee John Treacy Michael Phelps NBC Olympic Games Rio 2016 Sochi 2018 Sport Ireland Thomas Bach Tokyo 2020 USA USA Swimming

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