Schiller On Postponing Olympics: Some Athletes Could Miss Out

Pushing the 2020 Olympics to 2021 made sense, but it could create problems for the participants

JRSportBrief
March 26, 2020 - 9:07 am
Atlanta Marathon

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Olympics have been postponed to 2021. 

Reactions among athletes? Mixed.

“There was, I think, a mixed bag,” former USOC Executive Director Harvey Schiller said on JR SportBrief. “So many of them asked that it be delayed, and then there were a bunch that were concerned this may be their only chance to be in the Olympics as opposed to waiting for a year. People aren’t getting younger; they’re getting older. You had a qualifier for the marathon in Atlanta, and the question is, ‘I qualified for the marathon. Will I still be qualified for the marathon next year? Or will there be other trials and qualifications to see if I am on the Olympic team?’ So I think there are a lot of questions that occur – not just here, but around the world.”

Schiller, 79, offered his solution to this potential issue.

“I would hold that if you qualified for 2020, you are still qualified for 2021 – unless there was some physical thing which prohibited you from participating,” he said. “But most of the sports have not had their trials and qualifications yet. So I think the leadership of the United States Olympic Committee – and the Paralympics, of course – are going to have to make sure there’s a fair competition for those that participate. But keep in mind the U.S. Olympic Committee doesn’t run the trials; the individual sports run them, and they run the qualifications themselves. So it’ll be up to every sport – from archery to sailing to fencing to swimming to volleyball – to determine the qualifications.”

Schiller added that there could be complications among professional athletes.

“The NBA has suspended their season to see what the future holds,” he said. “If they decide to start earlier or later next year to make up games, there may not be professional basketball players available for 2021.”