Team GB give strongest warning yet they'll withdraw from Olympics

Team GB set to withdraw from Games due to the coronavirus (PA Images)
17:15pm, Mon 23 Mar 2020
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The British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson says Team GB will withdraw from Tokyo 2020 if the coronavirus continues to spread.

They will follow the lead taken by Canada and Australia who have already announced that they will not be competing this summer. 

The International Olympic Committee have said they will make the final decision in up to four weeks on whether the Games will go ahead. 

Robertson said: "We can't see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted.

"I think it is very simple. If the virus continues as predicted by the Government, I don't think there is any way we can send a team.

"First, I don't see any way that the athletes and Team GB could be ready by then. 

"Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.

"Secondly, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this. We are actually in a process where we are talking to all our sports. We will complete that over the next couple of days."

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The Australian Olympic Committee's executive board met by teleconference on Monday and unanimously agreed that an Australian Olympic team could not be assembled given the changing circumstances across the world.

The committee said: "Our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families."

Earlier, Canada’s Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee released a statement saying that while they recognised the complexities of a postponement, 'nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community'.

Martin Richard, communications chief for the CPC, said the Canadians had been hoping for a decision on Sunday and decided to withdraw when none came.

“The world is facing a crisis and this is more important than any other sport event,” he told Reuters from Ottawa.