The USA Basketball coaching staff for the Tokyo Olympics is still preparing as if there will be a gold medal to try and defend this summer, even in highly uncertain times caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. men’s assistant coach Steve Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, said on a conference call Tuesday that he has had some recent contact with U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs as plans for the Olympics continue.
Kerr is slated to be on a staff that also includes Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova coach Jay Wright. Those were the three assistants under Popovich last summer as well at the Basketball World Cup in China.
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“Everything’s just up in the air,” Kerr said. “There’s no sense of whether things are going to be delayed or anything. We’re all kind of wondering what’s going to happen and so is the rest of the world.”
The Olympics are scheduled to start July 24. The International Olympic Committee said Tuesday that the uncertainty of things right now is “an unprecedented situation for the whole world."
“The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage," the IOC said, adding that any other “speculation at this moment would be counter-productive."
USA Basketball revealed last month a list of 44 players — most of the league’s biggest American stars among them and 15 of the 16 U.S.-born NBA All-Stars from this season — who are under consideration for the Olympic team. The original plan was to pick a 12-player roster by early June, and for that team to gather in Las Vegas in early July to begin training camp.
Officially, no part of that plan has changed yet. Like the NBA and the rest of the sports world, USA Basketball is very much in wait-and-see mode.
“We’re just going to plan as if it’s going to happen and we’re going to try to put together a roster,” Kerr said. “That’s all we can do.”