Canada pulls out of Olympics as pressure mounts on Tokyo to postpone 2020 Games

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Paralympic Committee (CPC) said Sunday that Team Canada will not participate in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020 due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

Opposition to the Games in July has risen sharply in the past 48 hours, several major players such as American and British athletics, as well as several national Olympic committees, have asked for a postponement due to the pandemic.

More than 13,000 people have died worldwide since the start of the coronavirus epidemic.

“The COC and the CPC urge the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year and we offer them our full support to help them navigate the complexities of postponing the Games, “the commissions said in a statement.

“While we recognize the complexities inherent in a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the global community,” he added.

The organizing committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will hold a press conference in Tokyo later Monday.

On Sunday, the IOC said it would hold talks that would include an option to postpone the start date of July 24 or even move the Games a year or more due to the global coronavirus epidemic, but said that canceling the Games would not solve the problems or help anyone.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the IOC statement by declaring in Parliament on Monday that postponing the Olympic Games could become an option if hosting the Games in their “full form” becomes impossible.

“If it becomes difficult, we may have no choice but to consider postponing the Games, given the Olympic principle of putting the health of athletes first,” he said.

Abe also said that the total cancellation of the Games was not an option, echoing the IOC’s position in his statement that the cancellation “was not on the agenda”.

Although Canada is the first country to declare that it will not send a delegation to participate in the summer of 2020, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said on Monday that its athletes should prepare for the Tokyo Games which will place in 2021.

“The AOC believes that our athletes must now prioritize their own health and that of those around them, and be able to return to families, in discussion with their national federations,” said the AOC in a statement.

Alternative scenarios

The Canadian Olympic Committee said it had reviewed the IOC’s assessment of the situation and commended it for recognizing the need to consider other scenarios to host the Games.

“We are grateful to the IOC for its assurance that it will not cancel the Tokyo 2020 Games and appreciate that it understands the importance of speeding up its decision regarding a possible postponement,” he said.

“We also congratulate the IOC for recognizing that protecting the health and well-being of nations and combating the virus must be our primary concern.

“We are going through a global health crisis much bigger than sport.”

The boycott of Canada will add to the growing pressure on the IOC to change the calendar after criticism from a large number of current and former athletes with health problems.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), which supported the IOC standby position, expressed a different tone at the last update, saying in a statement that it welcomes some clarity but doesn’t has done little to address the growing uncertainty and the athlete. anxiety.

“The progress reflected in updating the IOC to the global athlete community is an important step in bringing clarity, but our community of athletes continues to face enormous ambiguity surrounding the Tokyo 2020 Games”, said Sarah Hirshland, Executive Director of the USOPC and Chair of the USOPC Athlete Advisory Council. Han Xiao in a joint statement.

The Olympic Games were never postponed or canceled in peacetime, but the IOC’s decision to even consider a postponement was greeted with relief by several major stakeholders, including World Athletics, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the main national Olympic committees.

(REUTERS)