Olympic pushback: US track joins swimming, urges Tokyo delay

A group of students from Uruguay pose for a souvenir picture on the Olympic Rings set outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Saturday, March 21, 2020. The Olympic flame from Greece arrived in Japan Friday, even as the opening of the the Tokyo Games in four months is in doubt with more voices suggesting the games should to be postponed or canceled because of the worldwide virus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A group of students from Uruguay pose for a souvenir picture on the Olympic Rings set outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Saturday, March 21, 2020. The Olympic flame from Greece arrived in Japan Friday, even as the opening of the the Tokyo Games in four months is in doubt with more voices suggesting the games should to be postponed or canceled because of the worldwide virus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DENVER, Colo. – U.S. Olympic leaders are facing a growing rebellion inside their ranks about holding the Tokyo Games.

A board member of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee countered leadership by criticizing the IOC, and the USA Track and Field chief added to the call for a postponement because of the mushrooming coronavirus crisis.

USATF CEO Max Siegel sent a two-page note to his counterpart at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland, asking the federation to advocate for a delay. It came late Friday, only a few hours after USA Swimming's CEO sent a similar letter.

Now, the sports that accounted for 65 of America's 121 medals and 175 of its 554 athletes at the last Summer Games are on record in urging, in Siegel's words, “the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes.”

Also focused on leadership was Steve Mesler, a USOPC board member and Olympic champion bobsledder. In a blog post Friday, Mesler leveled much much more criticism toward the IOC than Hirshland or the board chair, Susanne Lyons, did in earlier statements and interviews.

“The (IOC) ... has not shown the leadership we Olympians desire out of those who are in charge,” Mesler wrote, while careful to emphasize that these were his thoughts “as an Olympian and not those of the USOPC, its Board of Directors, or its leaders.”

Other national committees are also calling on the IOC to act. The federations in Norway and Brazil went public with requests to postpone.

“Our clear recommendation is that the Olympic Games in Tokyo shall not take place before the COVID-19 situation is under firm control on a global scale," Norway's federation wrote in a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach.