The Olympic rings are seen in front of Canada House Monday, March 23, 2020 in Montreal. The Canadian Olympic Committee announced Canadian athletes will not compete at Tokyo 2020 Games due to COVID-19 risks.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The Olympic rings are seen in front of Canada House Monday, March 23, 2020 in Montreal. The Canadian Olympic Committee announced Canadian athletes will not compete at Tokyo 2020 Games due to COVID-19 risks.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Canadian IOC member Dick Pound expects Olympic postponement

The Summer Olympics are scheduled to start July 24 with the Paralympics slated to follow on Aug. 25

Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound of Montreal believes the 2020 Tokyo Games will be postponed.

Pound told The Canadian Press in a phone interview he expects the July 24 start of the Olympics to be pushed back.

“You’re looking at a postponement,” Pound said Monday. “I think that’s out there now.

“We’re all reading the tea leaves and so on, but the Japanese themselves are talking about postponing. A lot of National Olympic Committees and countries are calling for a postponement.”

Canada called for a postponement on Sunday night.

Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees made the right decision in announcing Canadian athletes will not go to this summer’s Olympics or Paralympics if they start on their scheduled dates.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the COC said Sunday night it would hold back its athletes if the Games start as scheduled and called for a postponement until 2021.

“I know this heartbreaking for so many people — athletes, coaches, staff and fans. But this was absolutely the right call and everyone should follow their lead,” Trudeau said in Ottawa.

Trudeau said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is “very much aware of the challenges” with the Tokyo Games attempting to start on time.

READ MORE: Canada refuses to go to Tokyo Games in 2020, asks for one-year postponement

The Summer Olympics are scheduled to start July 24 with the Paralympics slated to follow on Aug. 25.

The head of health and safety for the 2012 London Olympics, now the British Safety Council chair, lauded Canada’s stance and hopes other countries to follow suit.

“It’s absolutely the right call,” Lawrence Waterman said. “The difference between Canada and the IOC is that Canada has recognized delaying the decision is itself causing problems for people.

“Canada has spoken for itself. It hasn’t said ‘you must abandon the games.’ It’s just said we’re not going to participate this year. That is a way of putting respectful gentle pressure on the IOC.

“I’m hoping later this week the IOC makes the right decision and if it does, I think the Canadian position will have been seen to have hastened that and I think that’s in everyone’s interests.”

COC chief executive offer David Shoemaker said the organization took its lead from the Canadian government.

“The turning point was when the Government of Canada put a real emphasis on the importance of flattening the curve and social distancing, and what we realized is the question wasn’t so much could we send a team of athletes, coaches, mission team members, and fans and all the like to Tokyo to compete safely in July of 2020?” Shoemaker said on a conference call with reporters.

“The question was whether it was fair and appropriate to ask our athletes to be training for those Olympics in July today here in Canada, and put themselves, their families and their communities at risk? And the answer to that question was no.”

Canadian sprint star Andre De Grasse said he woke up with mixed emotions after hearing of the COC’s decision.

“It was a bold move. I was very surprised,” De Grasse said in a statement.

“Up until this morning, I’ve been doing the best job I could training on a grass soccer field after our regular training facilities were closed down. I’ve been feeling anxious going about my business of training when so much of the world has been under quarantine. On one hand I need to stay at home with my family and on the other, I need to keep training.

“After some solid results at last year’s world championships, I was really excited about the Games this summer and training had been going really well. At this stage I’m going to have sit down with my coach and re-evaluate my training plans. Right now it’s a waiting game.

Canada’s statement joins a growing chorus of critics around the IOC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Olympic Committee has told its athletes in a statement on its website they should prepare for the Tokyo Games in 2021.

IOC president Thomas Bach said earlier Sunday the global organization is considering options including postponement, and a decision will be made in four weeks.

Cancelling the Games entirely, Bach said, is not being considered.

Russia backed the IOC’s approach of taking time to consider postponing the Tokyo Games and condemned the body’s critics.

The Russian Olympic Committee called for “complete support” of the plan.

“We view as unacceptable any attempts to bring pressure on the organizations in charge responsible of staging the games and to force them to take rash decisions,” the ROC said in a statement.

The IOC and Japan’s organizing committee had consistently said the Games would go ahead as planned.

But Abe changed his tune Sunday, saying a postponement of the Tokyo Games would be unavoidable if the games cannot be held in a complete way because of the coronavirus.

With countless cancellations, only 57 per cent of Olympic qualification spots have been determined.

Since the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, only World Wars have cancelled Games in 1916, 1940 and 1944.

There have been three major boycotts, in 1976 in Montreal, 1980, and 1984.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusTokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Newton Elementary School in Surrey, according to an information bulletin Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Image: Google Street View)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at second Surrey elementary school

Newton Elementary closed for two weeks, set to reopen Dec. 14

Joy Johnson, seen here during an installation ceremony on Oct. 22, is Simon Fraser University’s 10th president and vice-chancellor. (Submitted photo)
SFU’s Surrey campus tackling COVID-19-related research

‘We can learn now,’ SFU president Joy Johnson said, ‘so should something like this happen again we’ll be prepared. We have to learn from this current pandemic’

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Hail to the chief – an in-depth interview with Surrey Police Service’s first boss

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski will assume his historic new role on Dec. 14

Keir Macdonald, CEO of Phoenix Drug and Alcohol Recovery Education Society, with the “first of its kind” Adult Residential Substance Use and Supportive Recovery Facility Homelessness Count. It was done around the time of the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count (March 3 to 4, 2020) to complement the count. (Photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey homeless, recovery counts show need for long-term solutions

This was the first time recovery, substance use facilities were included in the count

Mayor Darryl Walker gives a welcoming hug to Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell at the inaugural meeting of the current White Rock council in 2018. (Alex Browne photo)
White Rock council under fire for inaugural prayer

BC Humanist Association charges city violated Supreme Court ruling two years ago

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Most Read