As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads throughout the world, Canada has chosen not to send any athletes to this year’s summer Olympic games, scheduled to be held in Tokyo.
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees determined a Games in July was counter to the country’s efforts to stem the spread the pandemic that has brought global sports to its knees.
“I’d like to think it means is that we don’t prioritize gold medals at all costs, that at a time when our prime minister, our minister of health and our public health officer are telling us that it’s time to stay indoors, flatten the curve, socially distance, that our athletes are saying, ‘we’re Canadians, too and we’re going to do our part,”’ David Shoemaker, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s CEO, said on a conference call on Monday morning.
“We’re the first country to do it. I think in the next few days, few weeks, few months we’re going to see a lot of other countries follow suit,” said Tyler Mislawchuk, a triathlete from Winnipeg who was set to wear the Maple Leaf this summer in Japan.
Mislawchuk was gearing up for his second Olympic games as a triathlete, after placing 14th in a group of over 50 athletes four years ago in Rio.
The 25-year-old plans on using his new free time as motivation for his next opportunity.
“As athletes, I think for myself, adversity is a big part of how you become the best and how you make it. It’s really how you react to this situation, and how athletes do will be different for everyone,”
Former Olympic Rower, Jeff Powell was on the conference call when the Canadian Olympic Committee decided to pull the plug.
“It’s devastating. We’re hoping of course that it’s just a postponement, not a permanent cancellation, but it would be heart-wrenching,” says Powell.
Powell represented Canada at the Olympics in 2004, which took place in Athens, Greece.
“We’re certainly sorry for the athletes and all the work that they’ve put in. At this time, it certainly can’t come before their health, the health of their families and the health of their communities,” Powell concluded.
Following Canada’s announcement to pull their athletes from the games, Australia has announced they will hold their athletes back as well, making a postponement more likely than a cancellation.