Canada will not send any athletes to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

Canada will not be present should the games go ahead (PA Images)
8:30am, Mon 23 Mar 2020
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Team Canada have become the first country to withdraw from Tokyo 2020 announcing that they will not be sending athletes to the Olympics and Paralympics in the Japanese capital this summer.

The news came shortly after the International Olympic Committee revealed a four-week deadline to decide the fate of the games and Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, admitted for the first time that they could be postponed amid the coronavirus crisis.

Canada's Olympic and Paralympic committee described the withdrawal as a 'difficult decision' and 'urgently called' for the World Health Organisation to take control and postpone the Games.

Other nations have expressed their disapproval at the Games continuing as planned, with the Australian team saying it is 'clear' a postponement should occur and is telling its athletes to prepare for a 2021 Games.

The statement said: "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 recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community. 

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"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. 

"The COC and CPC reviewed the letter and news release sent Sunday by the IOC. We are thankful to the IOC for its assurance that it will not be cancelling the Tokyo 2020 Games and appreciative that it understands the importance of accelerating its decision-making regarding a possible postponement."

They showed their appreciation for the regard for athlete welfare adding: "We also applaud the IOC for acknowledging that safeguarding the health and wellness of nations and containing the virus must be our paramount concern. 

"We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport. 

"The COC and CPC would like to thank our athletes, partners and the Canadian sport community for their patience and for lending us their voices during these unprecedented times. 

"We remain hopeful that the IOC and IPC will agree with the decision to postpone the Games as a part of our collective responsibility to protect our communities and work to contain the spread of the virus."