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Canada, Australia drop out of 2020 Summer Olympics due to coronavirus

A banner for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics is seen behind a traffic sign, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tokyo, Japan, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

If the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo goes on as scheduled, our neighbors from the North and those from the Land Down Under will not take part. 

The Canadian and Australian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced that they will not attend the 2020 Games due to the coronavirus pandemic unless they are pushed back one year. 

“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 COC said in a statement. “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.”

“Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty have been extremely challenging for them,” Australia’s Olympics Chef de Mission, Ian Chesterman, said (h/t Reuters).

It remains to be seen if the Olympics will start on its originally scheduled date, July 24, and run through Aug. 9. While the number of positive coronavirus tests continues to climb worldwide, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has set a four-week deadline to decide the fate of the Games. 

It’s a changed tune from last week in which Olympic officials assured the sporting world that there were no plans to postpone the Games

Canada and Australia are the first major countries to take a stand on not sending its athletes to this year’s potential Olympic Games — a tune that other countries could follow to accelerate the process of pushing the festivities back a year. 

That view will not be shared by Russia, however, as its Olympic committee condemned those who are going against the IOC’s plan. 

“We view as unacceptable any attempts to bring pressure on the organizations in charge responsible for staging the Games and to force them to make rash decisions,” the ROC released in a statement. “Panic is the worst what can happen in the current situation. The ROC urges all the representatives of the sports community to keep Olympic calm, to act systematically and constructively while preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, to make every effort to come out a consensus on issues that are of concern to all of us in the contest of the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

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