A few weeks ago it looked like this year’s Olympic Games were scheduled to go on as planned, starting on July 24. Of course, a few weeks ago everything looked a little bit different. While a few qualifying events had been canceled or postponed, International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams said that the games themselves would happen in spite of those hiccups. At the time, there was little to no input from the athletes themselves regarding the plans to move forward but now we know, following a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee town hall, that when it comes to U.S. athletes at least, the majority would prefer the games be postponed.
The 300 athletes who attended the town hall were asked three questions.
- Do you support the postponement of the 2020 Olympic/Paralympic Games?
- Do you support the 2020 Olympic/Paralympic Games going on as scheduled?
- When are you comfortable with the IOC making a decision to hold, postpone or cancel the Games?
Seventy percent of the athletes who participated said they were in favor of a postponement, while 23% said that their decision would depend on what the consequences of a postponement would mean for their chance to participate in the games.
My only real understanding of what it takes to qualify for the Olympics comes from having watched I, Tonya no fewer than five times, and based on that alone I can understand why some athletes would be hesitant to put the games on pause. Considering the incredible amount of work that goes into not just competing, but having the chance to compete in the first place, I imagine it feels like there’s the possibility for a lifetime of work to be erased.
With a lot of training needed to be put on hold given the varying levels of self-quarantining taking place across the U.S., it makes sense that 34% of the athletes said that they wanted a decision from the IOC when enough information is available. Eighteen percent said they wanted a decision now, and 23% said they wanted one no later than April 15.
Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon took to Twitter to share his sentiments about the upcoming games, and it looks like he’s on the side of the 70% who favor postponement.
He also commiserated with those currently in training, noting how difficult it would be for them to perform at their prime while also worrying about their health and the health of their families.
The Olympics would surely be a welcomed distraction from the world burning around us, but not at the expense of the people who are hoping to compete. Hopefully, given the results of this town hall, the International Olympic Committee will put in the appropriate work to ensure the safety of those participating, and at the very least give them the answers they need sooner rather than later.