Biden non-committal on US' presence at Olympics

TAMPA (FLORIDA) • US President Joe Biden said on Sunday that it remains to be seen if the United States will send a team to the pandemic-postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in a radio interview in which he also weighed in on diversity in sport.

The Japan government, organisers and Olympic officials all insist the Games will go ahead and that extensive virus countermeasures - including the possibility of staging the quadrennial event without spectators - will ensure the July 23-Aug 8 Olympics are safe.

Asked in a Super Bowl half-time radio interview with Westwood One network if he thought the Games would go ahead, Mr Biden said any decision "has to be based on science".

"I hope we can play, I hope it's possible, but it remains to be seen," he said, stressing that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was "working very hard to be in a position to be able to safely open the Games".

Mr Biden, who took office last month, said he hated to think of the athletes not being able to compete.

"Imagine all those Olympians who work for four years, four years for one shot and all of a sudden, that opportunity gets lost," he said. "They are the people that I feel such pain for."

He also addressed the topic of diversity, at a time when National Football League (NFL) teams have faced accusations of systemic racism for their failure to promote minority coaches to senior roles.

When asked if he had any advice for the NFL going forward, Mr Biden said teams had to "go out and look, there's numerous incredible qualified African-American coaches out there".

"I don't understand why they cannot find - because they exist - so many African-American coaches that are qualified that should be in the pros in my view."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2021, with the headline 'Biden non-committal on US' presence at Olympics'. Subscribe