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COVID-19 Update: Tokyo Olympics in doubt as Canada pulls out, Australia looks towards 2021 games and Japan considers cancellation

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MON, MARCH 23 2020-theG&BJournal- ‘’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 statement issued Sunday, makes the country the first to withdraw from the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020, as pressure builds to cancel the game altogether.

The Canadian Olympic Committee also called 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.

‘’ 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,’’ COC said.

In another development, Australia has told its athletes to prepare for ‘’a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern-hemisphere summer of 2021,’’ following the IOC’s announcement of a potential postponement of this year’s Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe.

‘’The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) held an Executive Board meeting via teleconference this morning and unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad,’’ the AOC said.

AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll says athletes have needed certainty – they wanted to do the right thing for themselves, their families and the world community.

“We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programs. With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation.

“The IOC had adopted the key principles of putting athlete health first and ensuring it acted in their best interests and the interests of sport. This decision reflects those principles.

“We are now in a position where we can plan with greater certainty.”

“I would like to thank AOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Steve Hooker for his valuable contribution to discussions today and over the last week, representing the views of our athletes,” Mr Carroll said.

New Zealand (NZOC) also joined the countries calling for a delay of the Olympics by saying that the country would consider boycotting the Games if they open as scheduled.

In an open letter to the New Zealand Team from NZOC President Mike Stanley saying that the health and wellbeing of the New Zealand Team is the main priority and the global situation remains uncertain.

‘’We are aware, however, that our athletes, and those around the world have been increasingly impacted by a lack of access to training facilities, disruption to qualification events and uncertainty around the environment they may face in Tokyo.

Athletes need a safe, and fair, playing field to compete and, right now, the widespread and evolving impact of COVID-19 is not allowing that to happen.’’

Reporst say Japan is considering cancelling the Games altogether.

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