Megan Rapinoe says coronavirus leaves Tokyo Olympics 'in doubt' even in 2021

Jack Baer
·3 min read

Even with the Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, at least one prominent athlete has some doubts whether the Games will be held.

USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe told CNN’s David Axelrod that while she hopes to compete in the Olympics in 2021, the logistics of holding them while the coronavirus is active without a vaccine gives her worry.

From CNN’s “The Axe Files” podcast released on Monday:

"Frankly, I think the Olympics are in doubt next year. The more I think about it logistically, just bringing everybody together like that with the absence of drug therapies or anything like that just seems difficult.

The 34-year-old Rapinoe noted that this will likely be the final Olympics she competes in, and losing a final chance for gold would be disappointing:

"Certainly, you want to be able to go out the way that you want to and not sort of be pushed out by a pandemic," she said, adding this was likely the last Olympic games for both her and girlfriend, WNBA player and Olympian Sue Bird.

"If it happens that, you know, we can't play sports for or a number of years or whatever it may be, you know, this situation will be what it is. And I think we'll be at peace with that. But I think we're definitely both hoping to be able to play in the Olympics."

Rapinoe voiced support for the decision to postpone the Olympics when it was first announced.

While many Olympics fans likely hope the clear-cut postponement will allow the Olympics to be held like usual, the coronavirus could wreak havoc with those plans.

There’s no telling how quickly a vaccine for the virus can reach mass distribution, and the world might need a globally accessible vaccine for the Olympics to be feasible. It’s an event that typically brings in millions of people from all over the world into a single city, with the potential to spread the virus to nearly every country in the world if a site is contaminated.

Adding to the stakes is one IOC member saying there will be no further postponement of the Games, meaning it’s 2021 or cancellation.

United States forward Megan Rapinoe (15) runs over to take a corner kick during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup soccer match against Spain Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Harrison, N.J. The United States won 1-0. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
The Olympics have been moved to 2021. The coronavirus risk could still remain. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

Rapinoe takes issue with U.S. Soccer brief

The “Axe Files” episode was recorded a few days before the pivotal ruling against the USWNT’s lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, but Rapinoe touched on some parts of the trial.

Federal Judge Gary Klausner granted a summary ruling last week in favor of U.S. Soccer, saying the USWNT’s claims of unequal pay were insufficient to warrant a trial and even argued the USWNT earned more than the (significantly less successful and independently compensated) USMNT.

Rapinoe took issue with a U.S. Soccer filing claiming women’s and men’s teams have different jobs, calling it “indisputable science” that men are inherently faster and stronger:

"To signal to not only the boys that they are just innately better, but to the girls that they're innately lesser was just, I mean, it was stupid," Rapinoe said. "It just, I think, really showed how deep that sentiment goes that they were willing and comfortable to put that in a public briefing."

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