The Canadian Olympic Committee, with the support of various organizations including Canada Soccer, announced on Sunday night that it will not be sending any athletes to this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
With a number of international events already cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Olympic Committee has not yet announced a decision on the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled to begin on July 24.
Canada is the first country in the world to officially proclaim that, if the Olympics go ahead as scheduled, it will not participate, in the interest of public health. The COC and the Canadian Paralympic Committee called on the IOC to postpone the event.
As a result, the Canadian women’s soccer team will not be competing in Tokyo this summer. The side earned their qualification to the Games in February by advancing to the final of the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament with a 1-0 semifinal win over Costa Rica. Canada was poised to compete in its fourth straight Olympics, hoping to improve on the bronze medals it won in the past two consecutive tournaments.
Additionally, Canada’s men’s under-23 team won’t be playing in Tokyo this summer. Of course, the men hadn’t yet qualified for the Games, with this month’s Concacaf qualifying tournament also put on hold due to coronavirus concerns.
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“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health,” the Canadian Olympic Committee indicated in a statement. “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.”
Canada Soccer, and several of its athletes (including Diana Matheson and Ashley Lawrence), announced its full support of the decision on Twitter.