WASHINGTON - The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) on Monday urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Olympic Games, scheduled to be held in Tokyo in July.
"It’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising, and we encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors," USOPC Chair and CEO Susanne Lyons said in a statement.
The letter also acknowledges the viewpoints expressed by the 1,780 athletes of Team USA on the challenges they face amid the current coronavirus pandemic.
"Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner," Lyons added.
The announcement by the USOPC follows similar calls by other national Olympic committees, international sports federations and elite athletes for the IOC to push back the Games.
On Sunday, the IOC had set itself a four-week deadline to decide whether the Games will be delayed.
Hours after the IOC's announcement, Canada and Australia announced that they wouldn’t be sending any athletes to the Olympic Games in Tokyo if they were held this year.
The Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement that it needed to prioritize the health of athletes and of those around them, while the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee "urgently" demanded the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee and the World Health Organization postpone the event by a year.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backed the COC and CPC's decision to pull out of the Games.
“I know this heartbreaking for so many people – athletes, coaches, staff and fans. But this was absolutely the right call and everyone should follow their lead,” Trudeau said Monday in Ottawa.
The president of the Ecuadorian National Olympic Committee also said that it would be difficult for the country to take part in the Olympic Games if they were held as scheduled.
Austria's sports minister on Monday also supported a postponement of the event due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The closure of sports and training facilities in many (but not all) countries has already raised doubts about the equal opportunities for participants in the 2020 Summer Games," Werner Kogler, who is also Austria's vice-chancellor, said in a statement.
"In the interests of the health of all participants, coaches and spectators, I am calling for a postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games," he added.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump expressed confidence Monday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a "proper decision" with respect to the possible postponement.
"We will be guided by the wishes of Prime Minister Abe of Japan, a great friend of the United States and a man who has done a magnificent job on the Olympic Venue, as to attending the Olympic Games in Japan," the US leader tweeted.
Trump's remarks came a few hours after Abe expressed his willingness at a parliamentary session to discuss the postponement of the Games.
Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach are scheduled to talk via telephone in the next few hours, confirmed Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who is also expected to take part in the call.
Tokyo Games organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori is also expected to participate in the teleconference, which will be held around 8 pm, according to media reports.
The Olympic Games are scheduled to be held between July 24 and Aug. 9, followed by the Paralympics two weeks later, between Aug. 25 and Sep. 9.