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News, Update

Team Canada will not send athletes to Games in summer 2020 due to COVID-19 risks

March 22, 2020

TORONTO/OTTAWA (March 22, 2020) – 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 COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year and we offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring. 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. 

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.

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.
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Statement from Marc-André Fabien, president, Canadian Paralympic Committee:
“The health of the global community is the priority before we can think to bring the world’s best athletes together for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. As a global sport movement, we have a duty to set an example for ethical and socially responsible decision making. While we appreciate that all possible scenarios are now being evaluated, it is critical to make a prompt decision now in order to provide a clear path ahead. We are relieved that cancelling the Games is not a consideration, but we feel that a four-week timeline on a decision is not soon enough, and that a one-year postponement of the Games is truly the only option. These have been extremely trying times for all athletes, not being able to train and prepare as per their plans with the immense stress of not knowing if the Games will go ahead. The best way forward is the one that puts the well-being of the athletes and all involved at the forefront.”

Statement from Stephanie Dixon, chef de mission, Tokyo 2020 Canadian Paralympic Team:
“We know that these have been incredibly stressful, difficult, and worrying times for all of our Canadian athletes, and in order to help alleviate this in some way, action must be taken now to make a responsible decision regarding the timing of Tokyo 2020. We need a clear path forward, and the current situation does not provide this. We are no longer existing in a fair playing ground; athletes have not been able to train and compete as they follow the government restrictions put in place, and some of our Para athletes are in fact at increased health risks with compromised immune systems. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure our Canadian athletes are in the right situation to stay safe and healthy, both physically and mentally, and will not risk their well-being. It would be a disrespect to them, and to the globe as a whole as we all do our part to stop the spread of this virus, to hold the Games as scheduled.”

Statement from Tony Walby, chair, Canadian Paralympic Athletes’ Council:
“On behalf of the Canadian Para athlete community, we appreciate that the athletes’ best interests are at the core of this position and fully support the direction of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Canadian Olympic Committee to not send a team to Tokyo this summer and request a one-year postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”