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A Letter To Team USA Athletes From USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland On Preparing For The Tokyo Games

By Sarah Hirshland | Jan. 27, 2021, 4:50 p.m. (ET)

Dear Team USA Athletes – 
 
As many of you know, we recently marked another important milestone on the Road to Tokyo. For many of you, this road started when Tokyo was named as the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games host in 2013. For Team USA hopefuls working toward the Games, this is a road that started many years before that. 
 
But it’s no secret that this road has been a winding one. Best laid plans and preparation were sidetracked by the onset and spread of a virus that impacted all of our communities. Global attention has rightfully been focused on curbing the spread, supporting frontline workers, developing and, now, distributing a vaccine to our most vulnerable populations. 
 
Last week, we experienced another bend in that road as news reports incorrectly suggested that the Games would be cancelled. The IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee quickly dismissed the news, but not before it travelled around the world, alarming athletes, sport leaders and fans alike.
 
Importantly, amidst a lot of uncertainty and questions, the countdown to the Tokyo Games continues, and though we can expect there will be a lot of speculation and opportunity for misinformation in the weeks and months ahead, know that we will share official updates with this community as soon as we have them. And you can always reach out to us at athleteservices@usopc.org with any questions you have.

Our expectation today is that the Games will go forward. They will look and feel different than any previous Games, as we will all be asked to continue to make sacrifices and adaptations to protect the health of our community. We’ll learn more in the coming weeks, and the USOPC and the NGBs will continue working extraordinarily hard to mitigate against the unexpected, and to give every Team USA athlete the best opportunity to achieve their sporting dream - with as little distraction as possible. The Tokyo Organizing Committee, Japanese government, the IOC and the IPC are great partners in that effort. At the same time, know that the safety and wellbeing of Team USA is our number one concern, and it guides every decision we make.   

Importantly, there is still a lot to be excited about. After all, these are the Olympic and Paralympic Games – and they have a long history of bringing the world together, and bringing out the best in those who compete and celebrate them.  
   
So, with less than six months on the clock until the opening of the Tokyo Games, I offer my encouragement, support and appreciation to you, and the high performance teams, medical staffs and administrators who make up this community. The collective commitment and focus through these unprecedented times is nothing short of remarkable. It is an exemplary demonstration of unity, teamwork and the very spirit that defines Team USA.
 
As we pass this milestone and forge ahead, I wish everyone continued good health, and success on the road to Tokyo, Beijing and beyond. 
 
Sincerely, 
Sarah Hirshland