Canada, Australia pulling out of Olympics because of coronavirus

"This is not solely about athlete health — this is about public health," the Canadian Olympic Committee said.
Image: A performer stands next to the Olympic flame during the Olympic flame handover ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, on March 19, 2020 in Athens.
A performer stands next to the Olympic flame during the flame handover ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Athens on Thursday, March 19, 2020.Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images

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By Tim Stelloh

Canada and Australia will not send athletes to the Summer Olympic Games this year if the games aren't delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Sunday.

In a statement, the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it was "urgently" calling on the organizations that organize the games to postpone the event for one year. "This is not solely about athlete health — this is about public health," the group said.

In Australia, the country's Olympic Committee also unanimously agreed that its team couldn't be assembled with the virus continuing to spread around the planet.

Earlier Sunday, the International Olympic Committee said it was still evaluating whether the games, scheduled to begin July 24 in Tokyo, would go forward as planned.

"A decision about a postponement today could not determine a new date for the Olympic Games because of the uncertain developments in both directions," the committee's president, Thomas Bach, wrote Sunday. "An improvement, as we are seeing in a number of countries thanks to the severe measures being taken, or a deteriorating situation in other countries."

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Bach added that canceling the games would "destroy" the dreams of 11,000 athletes from around the world.

"Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody," he said. "Therefore it is not on our agenda."

In a separate statement, the International Paralympic Committee said it "fully supported" the IOC's decision to further assess the outbreak's impact on the games.

The IOC said it would begin "detailed" discussions with local officials to assess the coronavirus' impact on the games. A resolution is expected within four weeks.