On March 22, 2020, Canada was the first country to announce that they would not send their athletes to compete in the 2020 Olympics games.
The Canadian Olympic Committee said it wouldn’t allow their athletes to compete unless the games were postponed for a year, stating that “It runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”
Australia was the second country to opt out, joining Canada this morning. The committee stated, “our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to their families.” They urged their athletes to prepare for a 2021 Olympics. The heads of USA Swimming and USA Track and Field also spoke up about wanting the games postponed.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) originally wanted up to four weeks to decide on an outcome, but they came out less than 24 hours after Canada dropped out and announced that they would postpone the games. I’m not completely surprised, given the number of events that have been canceled recently, although the Olympics is by far the most significant. With COVID-19 being a worldwide pandemic, it only makes sense that too many people would be susceptible to the virus.
The games were supposed to start July 24, but with gyms and facilities closing down, it would have been much harder for the athletes to train. Out of respect for the athletes who train year-round for this, the IOC made a quick decision.
The Olympics have been canceled before in 1916 and 1944, due to World War I and World War II respectively, but this is the first time in history that the Olympics have been suspended. The IOC will have up to four weeks to decide the new date, but it seems like we’re looking at the summer of 2021.