Worldwide athletes group calls for postponement of Olympics

Two women take a selfie with the Olympic rings in the background in the Odaiba section of Tokyo, Thursday, March 12, 2020. Doping testers around the sporting world are trying to avoid infecting themselves or athletes during the global virus outbreak, and that's not easy when collecting samples means getting very close to sports stars.

STATE COLLEGE – Fans will have to wait a while longer to see wrestling hopefuls grapple their way to the Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials scheduled for next month at State College’s Bryce Jordan Center were postponed on March 19, and on Tuesday it became official the summer Olympics in Tokyo would be halted until 2021.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” Japan Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials event, originally slated for April 4-5, was postponed two days after Penn State moved to shift to remote-learning curriculum amid growing coronavirus concerns.

While a new date for the event hasn’t been set, U.S. Wrestling Director of Communications & Special Projects Gary Abbott said decisions regarding the trials remain fluid.

“We’re monitoring the situation on a daily basis,” Abbot said on Tuesday. “And we’re relying on the advice and the information from the experts, both medical and from the government community.”

In addition to information received from in-house medical experts and from the government, U.S. Wrestling also has its own group of coronavirus (COVID-19) experts with whom officials remain in constant communication with as they makes decisions concerning its athletes.

“We have a COVID-19 advisory committee, which is an amazing group of professionals in public health (with a) medical background that is unmatched, and they’ve been meeting on a regular basis, as well, to give us the best information we can have in anything we decide,” Abbott said.

Abbott said any decision U.S. Wrestling ultimately makes about a rescheduled date for its team trials will take into account the new dates for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

 “With the change of the IOC’s (International Olympic Committee) approach to the Olympic games, it will certainly give us a longer timeframe to get our Olympic team selected,” Abbott said. “Part of the discussion of when or how we can do that trials event will be based upon when the actual start of the Olympics will be in 2021. That information isn’t available yet, so I think any final decision on exactly when and how we’re going to conduct the trials may be based upon the decision of the IOC on when to start the Olympic games.”

While the original event has been postponed, Abbott said, as of now, there hasn’t been any official decision to move it from the Bryce Jordan Center.

“We are discussing with Penn State the opportunities available for us to still hold the event there with the Bryce Jordan Center, and to keep it in the community where it was planned,” Abbott said.

Abbott said when it comes to a final decision on the venue for the wrestling U.S. Olympic Team Trials, U.S. Wrestling will consult with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee along with NBC, as the two-day event was originally slated to be aired on the television network.

He said U.S. Wrestling is hopeful the event will remain in State College when it’s finally rescheduled.

“We made public statements before, and we’ll continue to say that we are talking regularly with the leadership at Penn State and at the Bryce Jordan Center about the possibilities,” Abbott said. “That’s our first choice – no doubt.”

Elton Hayes is a veteran sports writer who covers Penn State for CNHI LLC publications. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.

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