Dawn Staley addresses possible cancellation of 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

Staley was named the head coach for Team USA women’s basketball in 2020.

Dawn Staley addresses possible cancellation of 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo
In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, a tourist wearing a mask poses for a photo with the Olympic rings in the background, at Tokyo's Odaiba district. (Source: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong/AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Fear looms large ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.

On Tuesday, an International Olympic Committee senior member, Dick Pound, discussed the possibility that organizers might cancel the summer Olympics in Tokyo because of the coronavirus outbreak.

If that comes to pass, it would disappoint thousands of athletes globally who dream of shining on the grand stage. It also could take away a chance for Dawn Staley to lead Team USA women’s basketball in the Olympics.

USC women's basketball coach Dawn Staley carries flag in 2004 Olympics
USC women's basketball coach Dawn Staley carries flag in 2004 Olympics

Staley, the current head coach of women’s basketball at South Carolina, is a three-time Olympic gold medalist as a player. She also earned gold as an assistant coach on the women’s national team for the 2016 games in Rio.

But, 2020 in Tokyo marks her first opportunity to guide USA women’s basketball to gold as head coach in the Olympic games.

Staley understands safety matters most when it’s time to decide whether the games go on as scheduled or not.

“If that’s the case, that’s the case,” Staley said. “I don’t want to go if it’s prevalent over there. I picked up something in Rio that I’m just now getting over. Surely I don’t want the coronavirus. If that’s the case, it is what it is. If not, we’ll pack our bags and try to defend our gold medal.”

Staley knows canceling the games would still be devastating.

“That’s tough,” Staley added. “Because you work extremely hard. All of them. Probably over 10,000 Olympic athletes, with the teams and individuals that will be robbed of an opportunity because of the virus.”

Despite some doubt over the 2020 games, much can change between now and when the IOC reaches a decision.

Pound, who has been on the IOC since 1978, believes there could be a verdict on the games by late May.

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