Coronavirus: Canada, Australia not to send athletes to Tokyo Olympics as IOC mulls postponement

While the two countries cited the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for their call, the IOC said it was assessing the situation more since the games' cancellation will destroy dreams of several athletes


                            Coronavirus: Canada, Australia not to send athletes to Tokyo Olympics as IOC mulls postponement
(Getty Images)

Decades ago, it was a man-made reason like the Cold War that had seen Olympic Games getting boycotted. In 2020, it is a pandemic in the form of COVID-19 that has posed a major challenge to its success. As the pandemic continues to haunt the world, Canada and Australia have decided against sending their athletes to the Summer Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Tokyo in July-August.

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement recently that it was “urgently” calling on the Games’ organizers to defer it by a year. “This is not solely about athlete health — this is about public health,” it said.

The Australian Olympic Committee also seconded the Canadian thought and said it could not assemble its contingent with the COVID-19 outbreak showing no signs of slowing down. Over 14,000 people have lost their lives from the deadly virus across the world while 0.33 million have been affected by it. Italy has seen the most number of fatalities (5,476) till now while in China, the most number of cases have been detected (81,054). 

While 20 out of 1,470 affected people in Canada have died of coronavirus, the number is seven out of 1,356 in Australia. Sophie Gregoire, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for the virus earlier this month and the family restricted itself to self-isolation. 

If Games are canceled, it will be the second time in Tokyo

On Sunday, March 22, the International Olympic Committee said it was still evaluating whether the games, which are scheduled to begin July 24, would take off as per plans. 

If the Summer Olympics this year are canceled or deferred, then it will be the second time in the history of the games that Tokyo will see the event not happening as the host city. In 1940, the games were scheduled to be held in the Japanese capital but did not happen eventually because of the Second World War. Tokyo, however, hosted its first Olympic Games in 1964. 

“A decision about a postponement today could not determine a new date for the Olympic Games because of the uncertain developments in both directions,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), wrote Sunday, reported NBC News. “An improvement, as we are seeing in a number of countries thanks to the severe measures being taken, or a deteriorating situation in other countries.”

Over 1,000 people have been affected by coronavirus while over 40 have died. 

Bach said canceling the game would “destroy” the dreams of several thousands of athletes from across the globe. Sportspersons wait for every four years to showcase their skills on the world’s highest sporting platform. 

“Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody,” the top official, said, adding: “Therefore it is not on our agenda.”

The International Paralympic Committee said in a separate statement that it “fully supported” the IOC’s decision to evaluate the situation. The IOC said it would carry out “detailed” discussions with local officials to assess the outbreak’s impact on the quadrennial sporting event.

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