The Canadian and Australian Olympic Committees have decided not to send teams to the Tokyo 2020 Games, urging the IOC to postpone the event for one year, due to a global health crisis that is “far more significant than sport.”
“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,” the COC and CPC said in a joint statement.
“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health.
Australia soon followed suit, saying that the AOC “unanimously agreed that an Australian team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad.”
“We have athletes based overseas… With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation,” AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll said. “It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July.”
The announcements came mere hours after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe admitted for the first time that postponing the event may become an ‘option’ if the spread of the coronavirus pandemic prevents Japan from hosting the Games in their “complete form.”
If that becomes difficult, we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games.
At an emergency meeting on Sunday, the International Olympic Committee set a four-week deadline to decide on the fate of the event. The Tokyo Games are due to be held from July 24 to August 9, with the Paralympics following from August 25 to September 6. However, organizers have come under increasing pressure to put the events back by a year amid the Covid-19 pandemic which has infected more than 330,000 people worldwide and claimed over 14,000 lives.