The Canadian Olympic Committee announced that it will not send athletes to the Tokyo Olympic Games, as the International Olympic Committee plans to sit and discuss whether or not to postpone the event during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the uncertainty, Japan’s Olympics minister, Seiko Hashimoto, said on Monday that the torch relay would start on Thursday as planned. Organizers have asked people not to line the route when the flame begins its journey through Japan’s 47 prefectures in Fukushima.
Australia has also revealed plans of not participating in these games too. The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees called on the IOC to postpone the games for one year.
They insisted that with COVID-19 and the associated risks, it was not safe for their athletes, the health and safety of their families and broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these games.
The Australian Olympics Committee said that it believes that their athletes need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to their families, in discussion with their National Federations especially as travel restrictions are implemented by countries around the world.
The Olympics provide grounds for new technologies, with robots being the highlight of this year’s event in Tokyo, Japan. The Tokyo Olympics was supposed to give companies, including Toyota and Panasonic, an opportunity to show off new assistive and delivery robots, and demonstrate how they can fit into major events as well as daily routines.
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, conceded for the first time that postponement was now a possibility if the Games could not be held in their “complete form”.
New Zealand added to pressure for a delay, saying the country would consider boycotting the Olympics if they open as scheduled.
Opposition to holding the event in July has risen sharply in recent days, with US Track and Field and UK Athletics among those calling for a delay because of the pandemic. Several countries, including Brazil, Norway and Slovenia, have pressed the IOC to consider postponement but have not threatened a boycott.
The IOC said on Sunday that it was drawing up alternative scenarios for the Games, but was not considering calling them off. It said it would take up to a month to reach a decision, although that timeline will soon begin to look unrealistic if more national Olympic committees threaten boycotts.