Coronavirus: Broad support for Canada and Australia's withdrawal from Tokyo Olympics as more call for a delay

A pedestrian wearing a mask walks past the emblem of the Tokyo Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on March 23, 2020.
A pedestrian wearing a mask walks past the emblem of the Tokyo Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on March 23, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (REUTERS) - Canada and Australia withdrew from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday (March 22) and Monday respectively and urged the International Olympic Committee to delay the Games by a year.

Here is a round-up of the reaction to the move:

1. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) said: "We view as unacceptable any attempts to bring pressure on the organisations in charge responsible of staging the Games and to force them to take rash decisions.

"Panic is the worst what can happen in the current situation. The ROC urges all the representatives of the sports community to keep Olympic calm, to act systematically and constructively while preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games..."

2. Hellenic (Greek) Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos told Reuters: "The IOC needs to take a quick decision on the matter. I understand where the athletes are coming from... When you cannot train you are stressed, you live in agony which is disastrous.

"Postponement is inevitable because things change so quickly every day. No one wants cancellation but I don't see how the Games could be held in July. The faster the decision the better it is for the entire Olympic movement."

3. Israel Association of Baseball president Peter Kurz told Reuters: "We are not calling for a postponement, our players will be ready. We propose that the IOC wait until the middle of May to make a final decision."

4. Portugal's Olympic Athletes Commission: "In a survey completed by 74 of the 89 Portuguese athletes due to attend the Tokyo 2020 Games, 89 per cent feel the event should be postponed to 2021.

"Eighty-two per cent think keeping the Games at their current date would not be fair from a sporting perspective."

5. British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Hugh Robertson said: "If the virus continues as predicted by the government... I don't think there's any way that we could send a team ... I suspect that we'll be joining Canada and Australia shortly."

6. French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia said: "The moment the IOC indicates that it's thinking about other solutions, it has already decided to delay the Games ... The IOC has come under a lot of criticism, although it has never said it wanted to maintain the Games at any cost."


7. The Spanish Olympic Committee said: "We have always said that the Tokyo 2020 Games should be held in equal conditions for everyone, something which is not possible in the current situation.

"We hope that, in the interests of the athletes, the definitive date of the Games is declared as soon as possible."

8. Christopher Samuda, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), said: "If we do not get the opinions of the experts that it (the virus outbreak) is being managed and that the risk has been minimised, we must take a decision in the interest of our athletes and then say we will not be participating."

9. Austria's Sports Minister Werner Kogler: "Forty-three per cent of all starting places have not yet been allocated, and the organisation of the qualifying competitions is highly uncertain.

"As Minister for Sport, I welcome Canada's courageous step and, in the interests of the health of all participants, coaches and spectators, I am urging for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games."

10. Poland's Olympic Committee said: "The Polish Olympic Committee calls on the International Olympic Committee to change the date and as soon as possible to decide on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

11. The Dutch Olympic Committee said: "We will not send any athletes if their health is not guaranteed. For this we will take binding advice from the World Health Organisation, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the ministry of Foreign Affairs."

12. The acting chief executive of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, Ravi Govender, told Reuters: "We don't think that cancelling the Olympics should be the first point of call. It can be postponed to a safer time, it can be postponed to a time when the world has taken charge of this virus or completely destroyed it."

13. Swimming's world governing body Fina said: "Following the IOC's decision to further consider the impacts of Covid-19 on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Fina has offered its full support for this process on the basis that public health and wellbeing must be our global priority at this unprecedented time."

14. The Egyptian Olympic Committee's president, Hisham Hatab, told Reuters: "We're ready for all possibilities, we're preparing for participation as if the Olympics will be held tomorrow... If the Olympics is postponed for a month or two or more, then we are always ready to participate."


15. Five-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser , a doctor and member of the IOC's athletes commission and who was an early critic of the IOC's plan to press ahead with the Tokyo Games, said: "Very proud of (Canadian flag) this evening."

16. Canadian athletes across a broad range of sports welcomed the news, with world champion swimmer Maggie MacNeil, who is hoping to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo, saying: "Sometimes you just need a good hug... I know that it is in the best interest of the athletes and society. The right choice was made, but it doesn't make it any easier."

17. Former U.S. Olympian Lolo Jones said: "YESSSSSS CANADA!!!!!!! pulls out of OLYMPICS UNLESS IOC POSTPONE!!! OUR HEALTH IS MORE important than sport. Hopefully the UNITED STATES is next."

19. British Olympic and world champion swimmer Adam Peaty said: "So the Canadians have pulled out of the Olympics and the Australians said they won't travel if the Olympics are held this summer, @WorldAthletics have also put pressure on IOC to move. Let's hope @fina1908 do the right thing in the next few days, not weeks."