Australia joins Canada in pulling out of 2020 Olympics

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The Olympic rings are illuminated for the first time to mark 6 months to go to the Olympic games at Odaiba Marine Park on Jan. 24, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Australia on Monday joined Canada to become the second nation to formally announce that its athletes would not compete in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics if it is to take place as originally scheduled.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said in statement that its athletes should prepare for the Olympics and Paralympics to take place in 2021, saying that “athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them.”

“The AOC held an Executive Board meeting and unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad,” the body said in a statement. 

The AOC said its decision was guided by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) announcement on Sunday that it would look further into the possibility of postponing this summer’s competition, which is set to begin on July 24.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) said Sunday that its decision was based on “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,” the COC and Canadian Paralympic Committee said in a joint statement.

The coronavirus outbreak and the surging number of confirmed cases throughout the world has led to growing calls for the Olympics to be either canceled or postponed. But up until Sunday, the IOC had remained firm in its commitment to holding the games as scheduled.

In a new statement on Sunday, the body said that it would “step up its scenario-planning” for the event, acknowledging that there is a “dramatic increase in cases and new outbreaks of COVID-19.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on Monday that the “IOC’s decision is along the lines of what I said before, of holding the event in its complete form.”

“If that becomes difficult — and thinking first about the health of the athletes — we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games,” Abe said, CNN reported

President Trump said on Monday that the U.S. decision on participating in the Olympics will be guided by Abe’s “wishes.”

Tags Australia Coronavirus Donald Trump Olympics Sports and Politics

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