EUGENE, Ore. -- It's disappointing, but it was inevitable. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials in track and field have been officially postponed to June 18-27, 2021.
USA Track & Field announced the postponement Tuesday about a month after the pushback of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“We were on track to do the best work as a local organizing committee in hosting a major sporting event. For that to be postponed for a year is certainly disappointing,” said TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly.
According to the International Olympic Committee, more than 6,000 athletes from around the world had already qualified for the games. Thousands more were still hoping to clinch a spot at Hayward Field in the coming months. Those athletes will now have to wait another 14 months for an opportunity to represent the U.S. overseas. Now that there’s a definitive date set, however, it relieves some anxiety and stress.
“It gives (the athletes) the certainty to begin planning their training sequence and training calendar to get ready for the Olympic Games next year in Tokyo,” said Reilly.
The extra year also allows the city of Eugene to regroup from the pandemic and make next year’s experience more sublime than anticipated, especially with a state-of-the-art stadium built.
"It’s going to be an absolutely spectacular venue,” said Rielly. “Better than anything anywhere else in the world. And the fact that now we have another 14 months to talk about that stadium to all the customers and all the athletes to truly see how spectacular it’s going to be, that’s a tremendous win for us.”
From an economic perspective, local businesses were banking on the streets to be filled with fans and athletes from around the world this June. Instead, the area will remain empty for the rest of the summer and that has a bigger impact than you could imagine.
“You’re really relying on people from out of town to come in and fuel the economy. If you’re not getting those out of town visitors, you’re not getting those punches you might normally expect,” said Oregon Economic Forum director Tim Duy.
The economic jolt was something the hospitality industry was banking on. According to ALKO Hotels managing director Tina Patel, hotel occupancy has plummeted nearly 60 percent.
University Inn sank millions of dollars in renovations, only to have the event be postponed.
“We want to make sure we look good for people traveling from outside of Oregon and outside of the country. So we put a lot of money in the hotels from the time of November to February thinking we are going to have a great year so the return on investment will come back," said Patel.
That return will just be later than expected.