Canada pulls out of 2020 Games as Japan, IOC consider postponement option

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    Canada pulls out of 2020 Games as Japan, IOC consider postponement option

    By Sampson Adedeji

    Canada became the first country to boycott the Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus pandemic and Australia told its athletes to prepare for an Olympics next year as Japan and the IOC flagged the prospect of a postponement for the first time.

    Opposition to holding the Games in July has risen sharply in the past 48 hours, with several major stakeholders such as U.S. Track and Field and UK Athletics, along with some national Olympic committees, calling for a delay because of the pandemic, BSN Reports

    On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would hold discussions that would include an option of putting back the July 24 start date or even moving the Games by a year or more.

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament on Monday postponing the Olympics may become an option if holding the Games in its “complete form” became impossible.

    “If that becomes difficult, we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games, given the Olympic principle of putting the health of athletes first,” he said.

    While Canada is the first country to say it will not send a delegation to compete in the summer of 2020, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said on Monday its athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Games taking place in 2021.

    “The AOC believes our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their National Federations,” the AOC said in a statement.

    Canada’s Olympic Committee said it reviewed the IOC’s assessment of the situation and applauded it for recognising the need to consider alternate scenarios for hosting the Games.

    On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said it was up to Canadian athletes to decide on going to Tokyo even if the Games went ahead.

    Canada’s boycott will add to growing pressure on the IOC to alter the schedule after criticism from a slew of current and former athletes with health concerns.

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