OTTAWA:The Canadian Olympic committee has just announced that it will not send athletes to Tokyo 2020.
In a press release, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paraolympic committee called “urgently” for the games to be postponed for one year.
“While we realize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” it said.
“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health.”The announcement from Canada comes as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, hinted that postponing the Tokyo Olympics could be an option if the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to hold the Games this summer and with the full quota of athletes and spectators.
It is the first time that Abe has publicly conceded that the timing of the Games, which are due to open on 24 July, may have to change, as more athletes and sports federations added their voices to calls for a postponement.
Cancellation, however, is not among the options, Abe said, echoing the position of the International Olympic Committee [IOC], which said on Sunday that it was drawing up alternative scenarios for the Games but was not considering calling them off.
If holding the Olympics in its complete form “becomes impossible, we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games, given the Olympics’ principle of putting the health of athletes first,” he told parliament on Monday.
The IOC is expected to take up to a month to reach a decision. “These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games,” it said in a statement.
“The IOC will … start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement. The IOC is confident that it will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks.”
New Zealand Olympic Committee president Mike Stanley has said the country would consider boycotting the olympics.
Earlier today, Stanley published an open letter in which he wrote, “Athletes need a safe, and fair, playing field to compete and, right now, the widespread and evolving impact of Covid-19 is not allowing that to happen,” and urged the International Olympic Committee to “finalise their decision as soon as possible, bringing clarity to our sports and athletes.”
Australia’s Olympic Committee has joined Canada and New Zealand in expressing the view that the Olympics should not go ahead this year. Australia has told its athletes to prepare for the olympics to be held next year, in 2021, the ABC reports.