Laser Focus for U.S. Olympic, Paralympic Teams

(ATR) Preparation for the Tokyo Games is job number-one says USOPC leadership.

(ATR Preparations for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics becomes a singular objective with a month to go till opening ceremony.

USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said that she and her colleagues are now "laser focused" on preparations for the Games.

Hirshland along with USOPC chair Susanne Lyons briefed media on Monday following the latest meeting of the USOPC Board of Directors.

The USOPC leadership team say the work underway ranges from the logisitics of moving the U.S. team into Japan to providing mental health services to athletes competing under the U.S. flag.

Without providing numbers, Hirshland said the support team of officials from the USOPC will be significantly smaller than the team of 2000 that travelled to Brazil for 2016. Aming those not making the trip to Tokyo will be marketing and hospitality staff among others.

As far as athlete numbers, around 610 were originally planned to be named to the Olympic team. The Paralympic team will number about 300. The Tokyo Games will be the first to be held since a name change that added Paralympics to the official name of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Hirshland says the health and safety of the U.S. Olympians remains the number-one priority for her staff.

Hirshland acknowledges that the impact of the coronaviruspandemic will make the Tokyo Games much different than any preceding Olympics.

One of those differences is the decision of Tokyo organizers to limit spectator capacity to half the size of the sports venue, up to a maximum of 10,000. Lyons called the move "rational and reasonable" given the gains in Japan in vaccinations and lower levels of infection. Overseas spectators will not be permitted.

Hirshland says she is excited about this month’s announcement from the IOC that a central sales portal for Olympic tickets will take the place of authorized ticket resellers which work with the world’s 206 National Olympic Committees. The new arrangement will end a decades long deal with U.S.-based JetSet/Cosport. Hirshland says the contract with the New Jersey-based firm was scheduled to end prior to Paris.

Some changes to the USOPC board announced today. In keeping with her resignation this month as an IOC member, Kikkan Randall steps down from her seat.

Former Apple executive James Higa takes the seat of Vivek Murthy, who left the board in March when he was named U.S. surgeon general.

The USOPC board, which has been meeting virtually since the pandemic struck a year ago, is planning to resume in person meetings beginning in September, timed with a possible return of the U.S. Olympic Assembly.

Reported by Ed Hula.