Mon | Mar 30, 2020

Canada, Australia to pull out of Olympics unless postponed for a year

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2020 | 10:26 PM
Canada's Andre De Grasse in action at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet at the National Stadium in 2017.
Canada's Andre De Grasse in action at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet at the National Stadium in 2017.

TORONTO (AP):

The Canadian Olympic Committee says it won't send athletes to the Tokyo Games unless they're postponed for a year, becoming the first country to threaten such a move in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee sent out a statement last night saying it was willing to help the IOC search for alternatives, but that it was not safe for athletes, "their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these Games."

"In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow."

Canada brought 314 athletes who combined to win 22 medals at the Rio Games in 2016.

Some of its most notable performers included swimmer Penny Oleksiak and sprinter Andre De Grasse.

Canada joins a number of countries – including Norway, Brazil and Slovenia – that have pressed the IOC on a possible postponement. But none had flat-out said they wouldn't go if the games start when they're scheduled on July 24.

The IOC said yesterday it would take up to four weeks to consider alternatives, which include postponement. It has taken the possibility of cancelling the games off the table.

The Australian Broadcasting Commision is also reporting that the nation's Olympic athletes have also been told to plan for the Games to be delayed until next year.

The move came after Canada's Olympic Committee said it would not send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics, currently scheduled for July.

"Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021," the Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement.

It said the Australian team "could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad".