Athletes should continue to prepare for competition, U.S. committee says

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said its athletes should continue to prepare for competition while taking appropriate precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has cast doubt on whether the Tokyo Games could go forward.

Disruptions to qualifying events have been “significant” committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said, adding that the group is working to adapt those events in the run-up to the Olympics.

“We are very clearly encouraging everyone in our community to put their safety and the safety of those in their communities and those around them first following the guidance of local health officials above and beyond anything else,” said Hirshland, in a conference call following the USOPC board meeting.

“We’re also asking athletes if it is available to them and in a safe and in a appropriate environment based on local health official guidance to continue to do what they can to prepare themselves for competition.

“We know the training schedules of our athletes have been significantly disrupted and as we are having to be creative and nimble in adapting our lives we are asking athletes to do the same but put their safety first and foremost.”

Hirshland conceded the outbreak has caused significant disruption to qualifying events for the 2020 Olympics, which are scheduled to run from July 24-Aug 9.

Those disruptions she said are likely to continue.

“Our teams are working very hard to partner with each sport and national governing body and the athletes from those sports to determine how to adapt team selection and selection criteria so we are prepared for a variety of potential outcomes,” said Hirshland.

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