The Canadian Olympic Committee announced Sunday that it would not field athletes for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games set to be held in Tokyo this summer, citing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
In a joint statement obtained by the CBC, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee said that they had made the "difficult" decision to withdraw from the games to avoid exposing athletes or other officials to the coronavirus.
"This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health," the committees added. "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."
BREAKING: The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee will refuse to send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if the event is not postponed.The 2020 Games are currently set to begin on July 24. News release: pic.twitter.com/NT8twsqAXI— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) March 22, 2020
The statement goes on to explain that Canadian officials will reconsider if the games are postponed beyond their currently scheduled opening date in late July.
The Australian Olympic Committee on Sunday told athletes to prepare for the games to be held in early 2021, while Australia's prime minister reportedly said in a statement that Australian Olympians would not be allowed to travel to Tokyo to compete in the games until the outbreak has ended, according to 7News Australia.
“The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) says Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOC’s announcement of a potential postponement of this year’s Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe,” read the AOC's statement.
“The AOC held an Executive Board meeting via teleconference this morning and unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad," the committee added.
The International Olympic Committee has for weeks attempted to dismiss suggestions that the 2020 games would be delayed even as the global coronavirus outbreak has sickened more than 330,000 people and killed thousands, resulting in travel restrictions around the globe.