(20-Jul) -- USA Track & Field (USATF) announced today that there would be no season-ending elite meet in the fall because of safety concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, since the Olympic Team Trials were postponed from last month to June, 2021, to line up with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, that means that this will be the first time in 144 years that the United States will not hold a national athletics championships. As David Woods of the INDY STAR reported last May, the United States has held a national track and field championships every year since 1876.
PHOTO: Clayton Murphy winning the 2018 USA 800m title in Des Moines, Iowa (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)
USATF's COVID-19 Working Group was at the center of the decision. The group made "a unanimous recommendation," according to a statement released today, that holding a mass-gathering event which involved travel by participants from all over the country simply wouldn't be safe.
"The decision was difficult but necessary considering the risk," USATF said in today's statement.
This means that the United States may be the only top athletics nation which will not contest a national championships this year. Germany's championships are set for Braunschweig, August 8 - 9; Poland's will be held August 13 - 15 in Wloclawek; Italy's will be August 28 - 30 in Padova; Britain's will be September 4 - 5 in Manchester, and Japan's will be October 1 - 3 in Niigata. Of course, if the trajectory of the virus changes any of those championships could be cancelled (postponements are unlikely at this point).
The virus remains poorly controlled in the United States which has 3.8 million infected people, the most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, and the numbers are still growing. Until the level of infection comes down, returning to live sports will remain difficult. In athletics, only tightly controlled "micro meets" are possible now.