USOPC postpones Olympic athlete gathering as precaution

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has postponed a gathering of hundreds of athletes and media to prevent a possible spread of coronavirus among those hoping to compete in Tokyo later this year.

The Team USA Media Summit had been scheduled for next week in Los Angeles and was set to feature around 115 potential Olympians, who would gather to be interviewed by print and television journalists preparing to cover the Tokyo Games.

But in a news release sent Monday, the USOPC’s chief of communications said the event would not take place “out of an abundance of caution” and other arrangements would be made for interviews.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland sent out an email to athletes, telling them that holding the summit with only four months between now and the Olympics “simply isn’t a risk worth taking.”

“We will continue to monitor the environment and will make necessary changes to keep us all safe and healthy,” Hirshland wrote. “If you have not heard directly from us, you should assume we are charging forward toward Tokyo 2020 as planned.”

Last week, the USOPC said it was gearing up for the Olympics, using all available facts to deal with coronavirus and how it is impacting both the general public and sports events.

The announcement came only hours after the Olympic committee in Italy, where the virus is more widespread, suspended sports in the country through April 3.