TOKYO: The United States is once again expected to top the Games medal table but US officials were reluctant to give a number, saying Covid-19 has left the medal picture foggy.
While the United States Olympic Paralympic Committee (USOPC) were loath to make a prediction, data analysts Gracenote were less hesitant, venturing that the United States will top the standings with 96 medals in total.
This would mark a significant drop from the 2016 Rio Olympics where the United States led the way with 121 medals, including a Games high of 46 golds, but still well ahead of China, which Gracenote has pegged will sweep 66 medals in Tokyo.
Medal predictions for Tokyo have been particularly tricky with the Covid-19 pandemic wiping out many of the world championships and qualifying events that help determine such things.
“In terms of world rankings it has been very difficult because the competition schedule has been really disjointed over the last year, year and a half,” said Rick Adams, the USOPC chief of sport performance.
“So you look at the typical criteria on medal expectancies and things of that nature, it is foggy.”
The United States is sending a team of 613 athletes to Tokyo, its second-largest delegation ever for an Olympics, adding to medal expectations.
At the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games, the host nation had 648 athletes and dominated the medal table with 101 podium finishes, including 44 golds, well in front of Germany with 65 medals and 20 golds.
“I can tell you we’re ready, Team USA comes prepared,” declared USOPC Chief Executive Officer Sarah Hirshland.
“Team USA is ready.
“Is the US coming here hoping to win a lot of medals? You bet we are.”
Part of that preparation has been urging US team members to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Even though 83% of nearly 600 US athletes to submit health checks so far have received the shot, USOPC chief medical officer Dr Jonathan Finnoff said the entire team would be treated as if unvaccinated.
“The entire delegation from the United States, every athlete, staff member, volunteer, everybody in Tokyo 2020 is being treated as if they are unvaccinated and I think that is the safest way of treating this Olympics,” said Finnoff.
“While vaccinations reduce the risk of getting infected, people can get infected when they are vaccinated and they can transmit when they are vaccinated.
“The best thing is to assume everybody is at risk and reduce that risk by implementing all the Covid measures we know that work.” — Reuters