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Canadians react to the Tokyo Olympic postponement

The Olympic rings float in the water on a barge Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in the Odaiba section of Tokyo. Not even the Summer Olympics could withstand the force of the coronavirus. After weeks of hedging, the IOC took the unprecedented step of postponing the world's biggest sporting event, a global extravaganza that's been cemented into the calendar for more than a century. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
March 24, 2020 - 2:43 PM

Reaction from Canada's Olympic community on the postponement of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics:

"I really applaud the IOC for making this tough decision. I think when we look at what the Olympic movement stands for, which is celebrating humanity, it's the right choice. I hope the world can come together in 2021 and celebrate humanity through sport."

— Olympic wrestling gold medallist Erica Wiebe

"The last 36, 48 hours have absolutely been a whirlwind for athletes across Canada and also athletes around the world. It was amazing to see so many athletes who are impacted take a step forward and acknowledge this was the right decision."

— Two-time Olympic trampoline champion Rosie MacLennan

"It's unfortunate but I'm at peace with (the decision). The last few weeks have been difficult. At first I convinced myself that COVID-19 was going to go away in time for the Games to be held this summer . . . But when we lost access to our training facilities a week ago I started to have some real doubts. It was a bold but impressive move for the COC and CPC to lead the charge . . . We're all fighting for something much more important than medals at the moment. Now I can focus on keeping my family healthy and safe. I’m going to regroup with my coach in the coming days to talk about what’s next in terms of training. Hopefully there will still be some late season summer meets to prepare for."

— Three-time Olympic sprint medallist Andre De Grasse

"It was about time that they started to make decisions because we've just been in the unknown for a week or two and it's been unbearable honestly. (It's been tough not to be able to train) because for the past 12 years, I woke up every day knowing exactly how my day was going to go and where I needed to be. And then suddenly it was all gone."

— Five-time Paralympic medallist Aurelie Rivard

"Having the Games postponed, I know it's the right decision. How I've been trying to cope is to keep putting things in perspective and just try and tell myself there's so many other people all across Canada, across the world, this is affecting them as well. Everybody's lives have been compromised to an extent. We're all trying to come together and stop the spread and conquer this virus."

— World champion backstroker Kylie Masse

"We provided additional information to the IOC on how exactly this was affecting our athletes and how exactly we came to the determination that it was not safe to continue in this present situation. The information we provided to them likely would have helped in the decision."

— Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith

"We were excited about (the season), I think we just have to defer our excitement now and get ready for 2021. I'm still very optimistic about the women's team. I'm still very hopeful that the men's team can qualify. I'm very happy that we're hosting the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria still. It's all a positive trend right now.

— Canada Basketball CEO Glen Grunwald

"Just being in Ottawa playing for a national championship (with the Saskatchewan Huskies on March 8), home on the Monday and literally by Wednesday, Thursday everything was then cancelled after that in terms of U Sports. And then it's just been one thing after the next after that. It's been wild. But my goodness, I'm glad they came to the decision sooner rather than later and think just a bit of a sigh of relief for athletes knowing what is going to happen. And now to actually have a date, like 'OK, it's going to be in a year from now.' So I think it's all good,

— Lisa Thomaidis, Canada's women's basketball coach

"To all the athletes: take a breath, regroup, take care of yourself and your families. Your time will come."

— Four-time Olympic hockey champion Hayley Wickenheiser


"For us, it was recognizing the Games ahead within these really unique circumstances and the stress it was putting on our athletes. We had athletes in Europe, in the States, in South America all training, and then trying to interpret what was going on. . . but knowing the Games were still on, knowing that their primary goal and focus and objective is to place in world-class competition, so unless otherwise they'll still keep training, or still have that single-minded focus, and I think that's a lot to place on an athletes especially with such broader circumstances.

"It's certainly not a day to be celebrated, and certainly not from an athlete's standpoint."

— Karen O'Neill, CEO of the Canadian Paralympic Committee

"There's a lot of logistics to work through on how that will look and work and a lot of that still pending on day-to-day changes that are happening. But it is a relief to get that in. Now there's a lot of scenario planning that has to start right now and we still don't have a firm date of when it will be. But I think we can expect probably spring, summer of 2021. So we can get started on some planning around that."

— Rugby sevens women's coach John Tait

"We still don’t know how long our current global situation is going to last. But for sure, knowing that the games are going to be in 2021 versus this year takes the pressure and the weight off everyone. Hopefully in the next four weeks the IOC sets a date for the Olympics next year, then all the NSOs (national sports organizations) can kind of work backwards and start to put together a plan.”

— Soccer player Diana Matheson, a member of the COC athletes’ commission

"I think it was the prudent decision ... Obviously they wanted to start (the games) on the 24th (of July). But from the last few weeks until that moment in July, I just think the world’s in a weird place, everything locked down, and it was going to compromise the athletes’ health and safety."

— Canada men’s rugby sevens coach Henry Paul

— With files from Lori Ewing, Donna Spencer and Neil Davidson.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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