Canadian athletes react to Canada pulling out of 2020 Olympics

Mar 23 2020, 2:51 pm

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) made a brave decision on Sunday, showing leadership by becoming the first country to pull out of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics if it goes on as scheduled.

The COC urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Games until next year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision made news around the world, and was largely applauded, with Australia following suit soon after.

But while postponing the Games, which were supposed to take place July 24 to August 9, seems like an obvious decision, that’s easy for us to say.

It’s a whole lot more difficult for the athletes, who have dedicated themselves for two weeks in Tokyo this summer.

At least, it should be. Many Canadian Olympians, past and present, took to social media to share their support for the COC’s decision.

The maturity shown by wrestler Erica Wiebe, who won one of Canada’s four gold medals at Rio 2016, was especially impressive.

“It’s the greatest privilege of my life to play for Team Canada,” Wiebe said in a series of tweets.

“I get to do what I love and represent a country that stands for integrity, passion, and is a true leader on and off the field of play. I stood on the podium in Rio and I wanted to do it again in Tokyo.

“I’m heartbroken by the COC decision to not send athletes to a 2020 Olympic Games.

“But I admire their leadership in this moment in time and I believe we are standing on the right side of history.

“I hope that the IOC will do the right thing and postpone the Olympics until 2021. I hope they choose this opportunity to lead with integrity and put humanity first.

“The most critical thing right now is protecting our community’s health and safety. We must focus our efforts globally on managing this crisis and getting through it together. For now, I am doing my part. Respecting social distancing. Staying healthy; mentally & physically.

“I’ll be ready for whatever happens.”

Should the IOC postpone the Olympics as expected, it will be a logistics nightmare, particularly for the host country Japan. The IOC will also have to make decisions regarding qualification procedures for the Games (will qualified athletes have to re-qualify in 2021?), not to mention re-securing venues.

In any event, the decision to formally postpone the Olympics should serve as a weight off the shoulders of athletes, who are likely trying to train in unideal circumstances around the world right now.

Everyone’s focus right now should be physical distancing and staying healthy. There’ll be time to play next year.

Here’s a look at what many Canadian Olympians, past and present, had to say: