June 18 (Reuters) - The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) on Thursday said it would begin to gradually reopen two of its training facilities later this month.
The Colorado Springs and Lake Placid Training Centers will welcome back a limited number of athletes starting on June 26, three months after they were shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said.
"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 that we can provide a safe and productive environment for our athletes to train in those two locations," Hirshland told reporters on a call.
"It is uncharted territory and we understand the urgency the athletes are feeling. It is their nature to want to be training and competing and we want to honor that, while at the same time balancing the reality and risks that still face all of us."
The USOPC is also keeping an eye on other training venues, including facilities on college campuses, to see when they may be able to host Olympic athletes again, she added.
The pandemic and the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Games has hit the USOPC's bottom line hard.
Last month Hirshland announced the elimination of 51 jobs and the furloughing of 33 employees in a bid to reduce expenses by 12.5%.
Hirshland said she didn't anticipate any additional budget cuts would be immediately necessary, although "additional and significant financial cuts" to the organization would be required if the Tokyo Games were cancelled altogether.
"We are preparing for that scenario but not yet implementing a plan because we are not there yet," she said.
"But we are absolutely putting ourselves in a position to be able to weather that incredibly unfortunate storm if it were to happen." (Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Coates)