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Canada, Australia pull out of Tokyo Olympics over coronavirus

Canada, Australia pull out of Tokyo Olympics over coronavirus
March 23
14:33 2020

Canada and Australia have pulled out of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Both countries are also calling for a year postponement of the Olympics.

The moves came after the IOC announced a four-week deadline to decide the fate of the games, which are set to start on July 24, although it said cancellation was not an option.

“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the Canadian Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee said in a joint statement.

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“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.

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

“The COC and CPC reviewed the letter and news release sent Sunday by the IOC. We are thankful to the IOC for its assurance that it will not be cancelling the Tokyo 2020 Games and appreciative that it understands the importance of accelerating its decision-making regarding a possible postponement.

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“We also applaud the IOC for acknowledging that safeguarding the health and wellness of nations and containing the virus must be our paramount concern. We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport.

“The COC and CPC would like to thank our athletes, partners and the Canadian sport community for their patience and for lending us their voices during these unprecedented times. We remain hopeful that the IOC and IPC will agree with the decision to postpone the Games as a part of our collective responsibility to protect our communities and work to contain the spread of the virus.”

In the same vein, the Australian Olympic Committee’s executive board unanimously agreed that the country’s team could not be assembled given the changing circumstances across the world.

The committee also said “our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families.”

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“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,” said Matt Carroll, its chief executive, in a statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, Shinzo Abe, Japanese prime minister, has admitted for the first time that postponement was now a possibility if the Games could not be held in their “complete form”.

“If that becomes difficult, we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games,” Abe said.

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