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Australia and Canada Deepen Pressure to Postpone Games

STAFF REPORTS

While the International Olympic Committee continues to hold off making a decision about running the Tokyo Olympics as scheduled, both the Canadian and Australian Olympic Committees have announced they would not send teams this summer, ballooning the pressure to cancel or postpone the Games.

The Australian and Canadian actions came after IOC updated their position Sunday that they are now considering plans to postpone that 2020 Olympics, but are not considering cancellation, and would announce their decision in the next four weeks.

Addressing the media following the IOC’s decision Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said the AOC executives met Monday morning and considered the impact the spread of Covid-19 is having on travel and daily life in Australia and concluded that they would not send athletes to Tokyo this summer, but to plan instead for the Games to be held next summer.

“The decision is they unanimously agree that the Australian Olympic Team could not be assembled in the changes circumstance both here and abroad. We have to look after not just athletes and officials, but also their families who were feeling concerned for their sons and their daughters,” Carroll said.

The 2000 Summer Olympic’s rowing venue in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Peter Spurrier.

“So, with these travel restrictions in place by the government, which we respect and understand, we understand the need to keep Australians safe, combined with the decision of the International Olympic Committee, we decided to plan for the hosting of the Games in 2021 in Tokyo.”

In announcing their decision, the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees released their decision that Canada would not send athletes to Tokyo this summer and called for the postponement until 2021 in the following statement:

“The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), backed by their Athletes’ Commissions, National Sports Organizations and the Government of Canada, have made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020.  

“The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), backed by their Athletes’ Commissions, National Sports Organizations and the Government of Canada, have made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020.  

The COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and 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 in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring. While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community. 

This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health. With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games. In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”

That growing call for action was amplified Monday in the following joint statement by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees:

“The progress reflected in today’s IOC update to the global athlete community is an important step in providing clarity, but our athlete community continues to face enormous ambiguity surrounding the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Having spent countless hours communicating with IOC leadership, our peers around the world, our NGBs and the athletes we serve, we know the difficult obstacles ahead and we are all appreciative that the IOC has heard our concerns and needs, and is working to address them as quickly as possible.

“Every day counts. We remain steadfast in our recommendation that Team USA athletes continue to heed the advice of public health officials and prioritize their health and wellness over all else. At the same time we are eager to continue to explore alternatives to ensure all athletes have a robust and fulfilling Olympic and Paralympic experience, regardless of when that can safely occur. Together we will find solutions that keep the spirit of the Games alive.”

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