TrackTown USA, the local organizing committee for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, announced it will refund all fans who bought tickets to watch the event at the newly-renovated Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., June 18–27.
The decision was made after communication with local and state health regulators. If spectators are allowed at the championship meet that will determine the U.S. Olympic team for the Summer Games in Tokyo, a set capacity will be determined. A revised ticketing program will be announced in May.
“Demand for tickets to the Olympic Trials continues to be at an all-time high and we are confident that some number of spectators will be able to attend the event if regulations allow," TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we now know that we won’t be able to both comply with important public health regulations and fulfill the tickets that already have been sold."
“We have considered numerous alternatives and have determined that taking this action now is in the best interest of our customers," Reilly added. "By starting over with an updated seat map and policies that account for new regulations, we are providing the public with the opportunity to make purchasing decisions based on information that is very different from when tickets were originally on sale.”
TrackTown USA says athletes' families will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets before sales open up to the general public. Fans who retained their tickets before the refund will have the next priority. Tickets will only be sold for individual days of competition and there will be a limit as to how many seats and days of competition can be purchased by a customer.
Lane County, home to the University of Oregon, is set to return to a "high-risk" status on Friday to try and curb the spread of rising infection rates of COVID-19. Under the high-risk guidelines, outdoor entertainment establishments can hold a maximum of 75 people. The county's COVID risk level is re-assessed every two weeks. The state of Oregon adjusted regulations to allow spectators at sporting events.
On April 17, Oregon announced its spring football game on May 1 will be open to approximately 15% of fans at Autzen Stadium. Students and families voiced their frustration with the university when it decided to host a virtual commencement ceremony instead of in-person graduation on June 12, just one week before the trials will be held.
The Hayward Field renovations reportedly cost $270,047,937, according to an Oregon athletics financial report observed by The Wall Street Journal. The new stadium features a permanent seating capacity of 12,650 but can expand to 25,000 for major events.
Eugene is slated to host the world championships in 2022, which will be the first time the global outdoor championships are held in the United States. Hayward Field has hosted the last three U.S. Olympic Trials.
Two collegiate meets have been held at Hayward Field in 2021. Professional runners, including world champions Noah Lyles, Donavan Brazier and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, will get their first opportunity to race at the new stadium on Saturday as part of the Oregon Relays and USA Track and Field Grand Prix. The NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships will also be held at Hayward Field from June 9th to 12th.
The Tokyo Olympics organizing committee has already announced that international fans will not be allowed to travel and watch events. A decision will be made in June whether Japanese residents with tickets will be allowed into venues or whether competition will be held without any fans.
Less than 1% of Japan's population has been vaccinated and the IOC has been informed another state of emergency will likely be declared in Tokyo as a "proactive measure."