USOC offers assistance after quake

Updated: March 15, 2011, 7:32 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Leaders at the U.S. Olympic Committee have reached out to their counterparts in Japan to offer assistance in the wake of the earthquake that has killed thousands there.

At the USOC's quarterly board meeting Tuesday, CEO Scott Blackmun said he had sent letters to the leader of Japan's Olympic organizing committee offering help but has not yet received a response.

"We'd want to do anything we could within reason to help," Blackmun said. "To the extent we can pitch in, we'd be happy to do that."

The disaster has forced the postponement, and possibly the cancellation, of the figure skating world championships that were scheduled to begin next Monday in Tokyo. The International Skating Union is looking for a new venue, though Blackmun said any effort to bring worlds to the United States would be triggered by the American skating federation, not the USOC.

U.S. Figure Skating has told the ISU it will offer "any and all assistance," but the ISU has not expressed any interest in moving worlds to the United States.

Blackmun and chairman Larry Probst are scheduled to travel to Japan for what they called a relationship-building trip in April but said they're not sure if the disaster will change those plans.

The United States had a sledge hockey team in Nagano for the Japan Para Ice Sledge Hockey Championship, but the team was en route home on Tuesday afternoon, said USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean.

The world gymnastics championships are scheduled for Tokyo in October, and there has been no word on whether they will be affected.

The USOC board meeting in Atlanta marked the first for five new USOC board members: Ogrean of USA Hockey, former Microsoft executive Robbie Bach, former John Hancock CEO James Benson, four-time Olympian Nina Kemppel and former Visa executive Susanne Lyons. They bring the board membership to 15.

The board voted to name Benson as the chair of the newly forming Paralympic advisory committee and also voted to streamline the USOC's employee code of conduct.

The board also discussed possible changes to its resource-allocation formula, an ever-shifting push and pull between maintaining funding for national teams that produce Olympic medals and supporting those that are trying to become more competitive.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press