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USPOC head explains US decision to call for Olympic delay

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ByAlexander Netherton
26/03/2020 at 15:39 | Updated 26/03/2020 at 16:07

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee's chief executive, Sarah Hirshland, explained how the organisation had improved its relationship with its athletes in the decision taken to come out in support of postponing the Tokyo Olympics.

This week the IOC decided to postpone the competition until 2021, following the calls of many national sports bodies and athletes not to go ahead with the tournament this summer.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Hirsland said: “A year and a half ago we were not in a position where we would have had that kind of feedback and input.

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Hirshland has been in the role since August 2018 and oversaw the organisation in the aftermath of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case.

Improving the relationship between the organisation and its athletes was paramount, and Han Xiao - chairman of the Athletes' Advisory Council for the USOPC said, "Although we would have preferred to get to the final result more quickly, it was clear that the athlete perspective significantly informed and impacted the USOPC’s change in stance throughout the weekend.

“Hopefully, we can keep some positive momentum moving forward in continuing to improve support for our athletes.”

Hirshland confirmed the difficulty in arriving at the decision.

“Even as the point came at which it became pretty clear that a Games in July was not realistic, then it puts you into the decision tree of saying, OK, now there are two pathways: Either you have a Games at a later date, or you cancel them outright,” Hirshland explained.

“Nobody wanted to hear the word ‘cancellation,’ and the IOC didn’t want to utter the word ‘cancellation.’ That left you in a place of making sure that before you were going to say, ‘We are going to postpone these Games,’ you knew that that could happen. And the number of individuals and organizations that had to be aligned around that was not insignificant.”

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