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Pandemic Mitigation and Support 2021

2021 Impact Report - Athlete Excellence

The Tokyo 2020 Games were perhaps the most emotional and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in history. Sending Team USA to a Games during a pandemic demanded we act nimbly and find new ways to do almost everything.

Throughout the ongoing pandemic, we ensured athletes could train and compete through mitigation strategies and new policies and procedures. We created systems that enabled Team USA to train, travel and compete successfully in an unprecedented environment, while also keeping the greater community healthy. We developed mitigation strategies, including a vaccine policy and routine testing, with guidance and input from National Governing Bodies (NGBs), athletes, the WHO, the CDC, infectious disease experts and chief medical officers from collegiate and professional sports leagues. We also supported the International Olympic Committee’s and International Paralympic Committee’s requests to test international technical officials from the U.S. who planned to attend the Games, with representatives from 15 sports. We continue to evolve our requirements based on the latest COVID-19 guidance.

USOPC Chair Susanne Lyons

“Postponed, reorganized and reimagined, the Tokyo 2020 games will go down in history as a lesson in resilience.”


Our COVID protocols, mitigation strategies and trials and events guidance were developed with the sole focus of preserving every athlete’s opportunity to compete in Games that looked like nothing we had seen before.

Collaborative and iterative planning with athletes and NGBs kept training opportunities safe and available with zero outbreaks at facilities or events. When training facilities were temporarily closed, we ensured athletes had virtual training tools, and worked with NGBs, coaches and families to find creative solutions.

Getting a delegation of more than 2,000 athletes and staff to Tokyo and back safely with minimal impact from COVID was unlike any coordination we’ve ever undertaken. Teams across the organization managed both travel arrangements and preventive health measures, all amidst ever-evolving regulations and requirements.

Collaboration between our COVID Liaison Officers and sports medicine teams, as well as NGBs and athlete services helped us implement pre-departure testing, on-the-ground health protocols and COVID mitigation policies leading up to Games. We also reimagined how athletes could have their support system there to cheer them on through our Friends and Family Hospitality Program.


individuals’ travel booked and managed


lodging accommodations provided across 30 hotels around the Tokyo area (in addition to athletes in villages)


pallets of athlete equipment shipped weighing 352K+ pounds

We owe Team USA athletes their moment to compete, whether their performance lasts seconds or through multiple rounds. We were proud to achieve success in mitigating COVID’s impact on athletes at the Games following months of preparation, and when an athlete was considered in close contact with a positive COVID case, we ensured they maintained training capability.

Anastasija Zolotic celebrates after defeating Tatiana Minina of Team ROC during the Women's -57kg Taekwondo Gold Medal contest at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

43,000+ COVID






< 0.0005%


Health protocols didn’t end when the Games did. Many athletes need to maintain wellness for their next competition or event. From training through the Games and back to the U.S., we followed our guidelines and protocols to ensure athletes’ wellness from start to finish.

Matt Ludwig launches into air in the men's pole vault event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

When U.S. pole vaulter and record holder Sam Kendricks tested positive for COVID on Day 6 of the Tokyo 2020 Games, teammate Matt Ludwig advanced from alternate to Olympian in record time. Matt’s manager informed him that he had eight hours to get on a flight to compete. While in the air, USOPC officials petitioned to add Matt to the team post-deadline. Around 36 hours later, Matt competed in his first Games. While he didn’t advance to the finals, Matt successfully jumped two bars.

“This is something that stays for life. I get to have that experience. I get to be an Olympian.”

MATT LUDWIG, Track & Field, in an article from the Washington Post

USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland

“The months of preparation to mitigate covid paid off. We created systems that allowed Team USA athletes to train, travel and compete successfully, all while keeping the greater community safe, and providing excellent mental and physical care to athletes as they navigated the games. To test at the rate we did, and to act quickly as issues arose, took intricate coordination across our teams and I think helped refine a games model that we’ll use in the future.”

Sarah Hirshland, CEO

With athletes’ friends and family unable to attend the Tokyo Games, we looked for creative ways to have them cheer on Team USA and feel connected even from afar, enhancing the experience of athletes and fans alike.

Through our partnership with NBC, we were able to connect athletes virtually with their families back home – oftentimes surprising athletes post-event with live video calls so that families could share in athletes’ highs and lows.

Learn more about how NBC, Toyota and other Team USA partners joined us in creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences during the Games.


webinar attendees


Games-times gatherings


pre-Games gatherings


virtual reality events

Femita Ayanbeku mid-race at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Track and field two-time Paralympian Femita Ayanbeku arrived at the Tokyo 2020 Games feeling ready to compete. But then Femita tested positive for COVID and entered the hardest two weeks of her professional career. The positive test, coupled with a lingering injury, led to her missing a week on the track. Femita faced her challenges and competed, with her positive outlook intact.

"No one can take away everything I’ve accomplished to get here, and I am so proud to be the fighter that I am because I know I will come back stronger and better than ever”

FEMITA AYANBEKU, Para Track & Field, in an Instagram Post