Canada will not send athletes to 2020 Olympic Games

The nation is refusing to participate if the Games are not postponed to 2021.
Olympic Rings

(AP) – There’s a growing possibility the Tokyo Olympics won’t begin in late July as scheduled due to the new coronavirus.

The International Olympic Committee now says it will consider the possibility of postponing the Summer Games. The IOC issued a statement saying it will hold four weeks of discussions with global sports officials and Japanese authorities to examine the options. It says the “scenario planning” will include the possibility of changing the July 24 start date for the Games, but that “cancellation is not on the agenda.”

The announcement came after IOC President Thomas Bach led a conference call with executive board members.

The leader of the international track federation has sent a letter to Bach saying holding the Olympics in July “is neither feasible nor desirable” with the coronavirus impacting huge swaths of the globe.

The Canadian Olympic Committee has made the strongest objection yet to an Olympics this summer, announcing it will not send a team to Tokyo unless the games are postponed for a year. Canada is the first country to threaten such a move in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee sent out a statement Sunday evening saying it was willing to help the IOC search for alternatives. However, it feels it was not safe for athletes, “their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these Games.”

The Australian Olympic Committee is advising its athletes to prepare for an Olympics in 2021. Ian Chesterman, Australia’s team leader for Tokyo, says “It’s clear the games can’t be held in July.”

Two-time gold medalist Seb Coe has sent a letter to Bach stating that holding the Olympics in July “is neither feasible nor desirable” with the coronavirus impacting huge swaths of the globe. Coe sent the letter after meeting with leaders from around the world in track, which is the biggest sport at the Olympics. It came hours after the IOC announced it could take up to four weeks to make a decision on whether to postpone the games, which are scheduled to start July 24.

Coe is a two-time Olympic track champion in the men’s 1,500 and president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Leaders at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said the update provided by the IOC about the Tokyo Olympics signaled an important step. However, those U.S. sports leaders say athletes are still beset with questions about whether the games will go ahead as scheduled.

National Olympic committees in Brazil and Slovenia later called for a postponement to 2021. Norway’s Olympic body said it did not want athletes going to Tokyo until the global health crisis is under control.

The United States governing bodies of swimming and track have called on their national Olympic officials to push for a postponement.