Count Andrea Howard among those who hope the International Olympic Committee puts the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on pause until 2021.
“For me, I think it would be the best choice to postpone the Olympics for everybody,” Howard said Monday in a phone interview with the Journal. “I think it’s the best choice.”
The former La Cueva High softball standout and current University of New Mexico junior last summer was the starting first baseman for Italy when it qualified for the Olympics.
Howard’s mother is Italian, making Howard eligible to compete for the national team.
But the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a senior member of the IOC, Canada’s Dick Pound, is going to force the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Games for a year. Pound said as much to a USA Today reporter on Monday, although the IOC has yet to make any formal announcement.
But already Canada, and Australia, have announced they won’t be sending athletes to Japan. The games are scheduled to begin July 24.
“I hope that other nations follow what Canada is doing,” said Howard, a biology major who, like other UNM students, is completing the spring semester online.
And like other Olympians, with virtually no way to train, Howard said even if the Olympics were to go forward this year, athletes would have precious little time to physically prepare.
“We take that chance, and we don’t train, and then hope that we’re prepared for Olympics,” she said. “I think (Canada’s decision) is a powerful move, but a good move. It’s not fair to the athletes to have to be quarantined during this time and then have to be ready (on short notice).”
Italy has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus; Howard said she is contact with her teammates and said none has the virus.
“It’s dangerous for them to be out,” she said. “My teammates, I know they’re safe and they’re good, but their nation is under lockdown.”
Most of the Team Italy players are native Italians. There are several, like Howard, who live in the United States with Italian citizenship.
“I’m still excited and motivated to be in the Olympics,” Howard, 21, said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s this year or next year or the year after, I am super-motivated to play for Team Italy in the Olympics.”
Howard was batting .306 in 26 games, with seven home runs and 24 RBIs (both team highs) for the Lobos before the rest of the UNM season was cancelled a few weeks ago.
• Although former Los Alamos High shot putter Chase Ealey is not yet qualified for Tokyo, she won the national title last July at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Iowa. She finished seventh – and second among three Americans – at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, last October.
Attempts by the Journal to reach the former Oklahoma State All-American for comment Monday were unsuccessful.