USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland warned of further financial cuts to the organisation if Tokyo 2020 is cancelled ©Getty Images

United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) chief executive Sarah Hirshland has warned of further financial cuts to the organisation if next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo are cancelled. 

USOPC has already had to make significant cuts due to the financial pressures of the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of Tokyo 2020 to 2021. 

More than 51 staff have been laid off, with another 33 furloughed. 

Hirshland has taken a 20 percent pay cut until the end of 2020, with other USOPC executives accepting a 10 per cent reduction in their wages. 

There are concerns the pandemic could still impact Tokyo 2020 next year, however, and it has been confirmed the Games would be cancelled rather than postponed further. 

Hirshland told a virtual press briefing that USOPC had a contingency plan for this eventuality. 

"It will require additional and significant financial cuts to the organisation," she said.

"We are preparing for that scenario and putting ourselves in a position to be able to weather that incredibly unfortunate storm if it were to happen."

Most American athletes have been unable train during the pandemic due to restrictive measures put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Hirshland revealed that USOPC's elite training centres in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid are due to reopen on June 26 to allow small groups of athletes to train. 

"We will start small, we will start slowly, and we will scale up as we feel confident in our systems and in our safety protocols in those two locations," she said.

Two Team USA elite training centres are set to reopen next week ©Getty Images
Two Team USA elite training centres are set to reopen next week ©Getty Images

Hirshland also refused to speculate on USOPC's intentions if an athlete defied the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to stage a protest at Tokyo 2020. 

"I'm simply not going to speculate on what we would do in certain scenario and circumstances," Hirshland said.

"We've been clear on our position, we're committed to our athletes, to evaluate and discuss our perspective on the issue.

"We're intending to do that globally and in partnership with the IOC but I'm not going to speculate on what that outcome might be." 

USOPC has been surrounded by controversy after focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and athletes' rights to protest reignited in the past month. 

Hirshland had written a letter to athletes claiming that USOPC "stands with those who demand equality and we want to work in pursuit of that goal", but was then criticised for having placed fencer Race Imboden and hammer thrower Gwen Berry on a one-year probation in 2019 after staging separate podium protests at the Pan American Games in Lima.

Following the criticism, Hirshland announced USOPC would create an "athlete-led group" to challenge the organisation's rules, including athletes' right to protest, suggesting it may advocate for changes or the removal of the IOC's controversial Rule 50.

Rule 50 states, "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

The IOC itself has also suggested their may be some change to the guidelines, with President Thomas Bach revealing the rule may be reviewed under a consultation process due to be conducted by the IOC Athletes Commission.