HOUSTON - Carl Lewis, America’s greatest track and field athlete, is onboard with USA Track and Field which sent a letter to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee requesting that they ask the International Olympic Committee to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Olympics are scheduled to start in July.
The USATF joins with USA Swimming, which has also made a similar request.
“The best part about that is they’re creating some solidarity in their message,” Lewis said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. ”I just think it’s really difficult for an athlete to prepare, to train, to keep their motivation if there’s complete uncertainty. That’s the hardest thing. Because it’s a health issue, it’s beyond everyone’s control. I think most athletes are accepting that.
“The athletes cannot prepare for an Olympic Games if they don’t have an Olympic Trials. If they don’t have competition.
“I think that USATF, in this case, stepped up. I think that they’re creating a voice that puts the athletes first and I think the athletes appreciate it.”
USA Track and Field did not put a time frame on its request.
USA Swimming asked for a one-year postponement.
Lewis, whose nine Olympic gold medals are the second-most ever in track and field, believes the International Olympic Committee should consider delaying the Summer Games even longer.
“If we delay what should we do?” Lewis said. “I think a more comfortable situation would be two years and put it in the Olympic Year with the Winter Olympics and then make it kind of a celebratory Olympic year. There are some athletes who are right on the edge of retiring that that may hurt, but in reality, you have to focus on what (is best for) the masses. Two years isn’t a big deal, and then two years later we have the summer (Olympics) again. I think that that would kind of give them time to reprepare.
"I just think there’s a way to put sports in its perspective, understand the athletes’ lives and their dedication and give them a second chance they deserve in a way that they can be respected and also have a chance to be the best that they can be," he continued.
Lewis, who is an assistant coach for the University of Houston track team, lost the opportunity to win his first Olympic medals in 1980 when the United States boycotted the Summer Games that year.
He believes the IOC cannot even consider canceling the 2020 Games.
“I think that would be devastating and what happens is, then all of a sudden you take the athlete’s voice out of the conversation,” Lewis said. “Canceling to me would be a non-starter for the athletes. It’s just not fair.
“If you delay and say this is what we’re going to do, then it gives the athletes a chance to make a positive out of a negative.”