Canada has announced it will not be sending athletes to the summer 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, if the games are not postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the first country to officially announced intentions to withdraw from the games if they proceed as usual amid the global health crisis.
Sunday, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee urged the International Olympic Committee to delay the Olympics by one year in a press release. "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," the statement reads, urging the IOC to consider public health concerns of such a large gathering amid the coronavirus outbreak.
RELEASE: The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee have made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020: https://t.co/HyOBA5wwp4 pic.twitter.com/x9OWABVxMA— Team Canada PR (@TeamCanadaPR) March 23, 2020
"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," the statement continues. "In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow."
Olympic planners have made sure to begin plans for a possible delay, with a source involved with planning the postponement scenarios speaking Sunday to Reuters.
"Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement," the insider said. "We are making alternative plans - plan B, C, D - looking at different postponement time-frames."
The IOC also released a statement revealing they are investigating different scenarios depending on the progression of the disease.
"The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, 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 statement read.
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