Canada has become the first nation to say that it will not send athletes to Tokyo this summer for the Olympic or Paralympic Games, urging organizers to postpone the Games for one year.
Last week the International Olympic Committee (IOC) received lots of push-back from athletes around the world, including Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser, when it announced that it remained “fully committed to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Yesterday, the IOC said it would come to a decision regarding the games in a month, but said that “cancellation is not on the agenda.”
A week after declaring that his country would host the Olympics in “complete form” this summer to give the world some hope as it struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan’s Prime Minister also seems to be facing the reality that hosting the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics might not be possible.
“When it comes to hosting the 2020 Games, I don’t believe the world is in any condition to do so at this time,” he said in parliament today.
It would appear that the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) had already figured all that out – last night the organizations, “backed by their Athletes’ Commissions, National Sports Organizations and the Government of Canada … made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020.”
In the release, the COC and CPC strongly urged the IOC, the International Parlympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to “postpone the Games for one year.”
“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health,” the release continued. “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.”
The COC and CPC appear to be putting into action what other governing bodies are calling for – yesterday the CBC reported that World Athletics president Sebastian Coe had sent a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach saying that “the time has come to select a new date and postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
You can read the full statement from the COC and CPC here.