With news this week that the Tokyo Olympics will be postponed to 2021, Eugene will no longer be hosting the U.S. track and field trials this June. That’s a big hit to a city that, like others across the country, is already facing economic hardship from the global response to the coronavirus.
“These events are a big economic boon to the city,” said Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis. “In the past, Olympic trials have brought in over $30 million to the region.”
TrackTown USA, which organizes the trials in Eugene, put out a statement that the event will be rescheduled – but it has not yet picked a date.
Eugene’s hospitality and restaurants will be heavily affected by that delay, Vinis said.
Against that landscape, Vinis and other city leaders are beginning to budget for the fiscal year ahead, and making sharp adjustments to financial forecasts and spending priorities.
“We are prioritizing our first responders, we’re prioritizing our business recovery and stability, and prioritizing helping people who are unsheltered access shelter and access health care,” she said. “As we go into our budget cycle, that’s going to present us with some new challenges and a reconfiguration of some of our priorities as we recover.”
Assessing Eugene’s role in responding to the challenges COVID-19 presents, Vinis said the city was well prepared to begin with and has received the help it needs from the state.
Early preparations allowed the city to promptly set up an emergency operations center and coordinate local response. And residents are increasingly in-line with what has been asked of them, Vinis said.
Before the governor’s order Monday, closing many businesses and telling Oregonians to stay home, “I was receiving a deluge of emails, worried emails, from constituents saying they were seeing too many crowds in various places – whether that was on the playground, whether that was in stores,” she said.
“Once the governor’s order went into place on Monday, that email stopped dead,” Vinis continued. “It was as if clarity had been established. People didn’t feel the need to write to me any more saying, ‘shelter in place, shelter in place.’ I wasn’t getting that kind of call anymore. So I do think that people are catching on.”