Canada will not be sending athletes to this summer’s Tokyo Olympics unless they are postponed, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Sunday night.
Amidst concerns surrounding the coronavirus global pandemic, the COC urged the International Olympic Committee to postpone the games one year, lest they would not be sending Canadian athletes to the games.
“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health,” the COC stated in a press release. “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.”
Among those athletes are West Virginia alumnae Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence, who have carved prominent roles out for themselves on the Canadian national women’s soccer team. Buchanan especially has been earning international recognition since earning the FIFA Women’s World Cup Best Young Player Award in 2015, while also scoring the game-winning goal for Canada in their opening match of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup against Cameroon.
The duo joined Team Canada to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, bringing home a bronze medal for their performance on the pitch.
Lawrence took to Twitter to express her support for the COC’s decision.
“Proud of Canada and Team Canada for stepping up!” she wrote. “This is a difficult time for everyone but at a certain point the human needs to come before anything. Safety of the athletes, staff and supporteurs should always come first.”
Canada is not the only nation to keep their athletes at home. Australia has also made a similar announcement, also calling for the games to be postponed until 2021.
Amidst the news, Japanese officials are reportedly looking at postponement options, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who signaled that Japan may have no choice but to postpone, according to Reuters’s Leika Kihara.