USA Swimming calls for one-year Games delay

USA Swimming wants the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed by a year, according to a letter obtained by USA Today Sports.

In the letter, which was sent to U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland, USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey writes that his athletes have struggled to train for the upcoming Games and calls on the USOPC to advocate for the one-year postponement.

“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. “Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities.”

“… 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.”

Hirshland, who along with USOPC chair Susanne Lyons spoke to reporters on a conference call Friday, said the situation was “a work in progress as the environment continues to evolve.”

On Thursday, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach told The New York Times that the IOC is “considering different scenarios” amid the pandemic. The USOPC echoed those sentiments Friday, with Lyons saying the organization is planning for a variety of outcomes regarding the coronavirus and the Games.

Jacob Pebley, a swimmer on the 2016 Olympic team, had expressed his concerns over the upcoming Games in an Instagram post Thursday night.

“How can we, members of Team USA and role models for hundreds of thousands of young athletes, attend Olympic Trials/the Olympics in good conscience?” Pebley wrote. “To do so would fly in the face of all emerging evidence and best practices for social distancing and protecting the health of vulnerable communities.”

The opening ceremonies for the Tokyo Games are set for July 24.

Information from ESPN’s Wayne Drehs was used in this report.

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