The 2020 U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Ore. will be rescheduled in the aftermath of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics being postponed to 2021, organizers from TrackTown USA announced Tuesday afternoon.
The IOC announced the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo would 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.” The decision came after months of mounting pressure and outcry for athletes training amid the coronavirus pandemic. There are more than 399,500 confirmed cases of the virus globally across at least 166 countries.
The trials were scheduled for June 19 to 28 on the University of Oregon's campus. The trials were slated to be the marquee event held in the inaugural season at the new Hayward Field. The stadium, which opened in 1919 and was used for track and field meets since 1921, started undergoing renovations in the summer of 2018.
“This morning, the International Olympic Committee announced its decision to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games due to the spread of novel coronavirus," TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly said in a statement. "TrackTown USA is now working with our partners at USA Track & Field and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee on rescheduling the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field. Although it is not yet clear how long it may take to finalize a new date for the event, our Local Organizing Committee stands ready to welcome the best athletes in the country to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field once a decision is reached."
Construction on the stadium continues with crews of workers in shifts. In a statement to Sports Illustrated last week, a university spokesperson said they anticipated the stadium would be completed "well in time for the Olympic Trials."
The renovations were funded by gifts from Penny and Phil Knight along with more than 50 other donors. The stadium will have a capacity of 12,650 and will be able to expand to 25,000 so that it can host the 2021 track and field world championships.
World Athletics, track and field's global governing body, issued a statement in support of the Tokyo Olympics postponement and opened the door to possibly rescheduling the 2021 world championships to 2022.
"World Athletics stands ready to work with the IOC and all sport on an alternative date for the Olympic Games in 2021 and has already been in discussion with the Organising Committee of the World Athletics Championships Oregon 21 regarding the possibility of moving the dates of this highly popular worldwide event," World Athletics said. "They have assured us that they will work with all of their partners and stakeholders to ensure that Oregon is able to host the World Athletics Championships on alternative dates, including dates in 2022."
As of early March, Hayward Field was still on track to be ready to host the Pac-12 Championships on May 16th and 17th. However, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring season championship events.
Earlier this month, TrackTown suspended ticket sales for fans and is now working on policies and procedures for ticket customers to either retain their tickets for a rescheduled date or request a refund. The Prefontaine Classic, one of the premier Diamond League meets in the world, is scheduled for June 6–7 and also suspended ticket sales through the University of Oregon’s ticket office.
Eugene has hosted the 1972, 1976, 1980, 2008, 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field trials. USATF awarded the 2020 trials to Eugene in Aug. 2018. The trials were first given to Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., in June 2017, but the governing body decided to pull out and reopen the bidding process due to continuing litigation regarding the construction of Hilmer Lodge Stadium. Austin, Eugene and Sacramento were the three cities being considered as Plan B.