Canada Won’t Send Athletes to Olympics, Australia Aims for 2021
(Bloomberg) -- Canada won’t send athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics unless the games are postponed until the coronavirus is under control.
The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee have “urgently” called on the International Olympic Committee and other organizers to postpone the event by a year.
“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes,” they said, adding it’s not safe for its athletes and runs counter to public health advise for Canadians. “We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport.”
The Australian Olympic Committee, anticipating that the games will be postponed, said its athletes should prepare for the event to be held in the northern summer of 2021. It also said the Australian team could not be assembled with changes such as border restrictions and as carriers cut flights.
“We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programs,” it said. “With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation.”
The moves come as the International Olympic Committee made its most public step yet toward postponing the world’s biggest sporting event. Following an executive board meeting on Sunday, the IOC said it would enhance its planning around potential changes to the games, including postponing the event, which was scheduled to begin July 24. But it said a cancellation of the games would not be considered.
Sunday’s announcement follows weeks of stubborn insistence by Japanese and international officials that the games would go forward as planned. As recently as March 19, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the goal was to hold the 2020 Olympics as planned, without any reduction in scale.
Abe told parliament Monday the Tokyo Olympics should be postponed if it is not possible to hold the full event without safety concerns, suggesting Japan could bow to pressure to halt the games due to the coronavirus.
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