Jun 19, 2020 - Sports

Tokyo Olympics postponement puts athletes' livelihoods at risk

Olympian Sandi Morris running with the American Flag
Sandi Morris. Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics was a serious economic blow for U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls.

The state of play: With seasons and events canceled, athletes are unable to earn appearance fees, prize money and performance bonuses from sponsors, all while continuing to train for Tokyo 2021.

  • Outside of a select few, most Olympic athletes earn very little money from their sport. In fact, as pole vaulting silver medalist Sandi Morris (above) told me this week: "A general rule of thumb is that if an athlete is not top 10 in the world in their event, they probably have a part-time job to pay the bills."
  • Some athletes have sponsorship deals, but many of those are up in the air, with sponsors hurting financially and unprepared to pay athletes for an extra 12 months.
"Every four years, we know Team USA is going be the team everyone is watching. We know our athletes are going to perform and raise our flag high for the world to see. In order for us to get that, we need to invest in them."
ā€” Five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat tells Axios

Go deeper: Athletes who qualified for Tokyo Olympics to keep their spots in 2021

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