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Canada says no athletes at Tokyo Games if not postponed

Japan 2020

A man walks past a large banner promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Monday, March 23, 2020. The IOC will take up to four weeks to consider postponing the Tokyo Olympics amid mounting criticism of its handling of the coronavirus crisis that now includes Canada saying it won’t send a team to the games this year and the leader of track and field, the biggest sport at the games, also calling for a delay. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TORONTO — The Canadian Olympic Committee says it won’t send athletes to the Tokyo Games unless they’re postponed for a year, becoming the first country to threaten such a move in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee sent out a statement Sunday evening saying it was willing to help the IOC search for alternatives, but that it was not safe for athletes, “their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these Games.”

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“In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”

Canada brought 314 athletes who combined to win 22 medals at the Rio Games in 2016.

Some of its most notable performers included swimmer Penny Oleksiak and sprinter Andre De Grasse.

Canada joins a number of countries — including Norway, Brazil and Slovenia — that have pressed the IOC on a possible postponement. But none had flat-out said they wouldn’t go if the games start when they’re scheduled on July 24.

The IOC on Sunday said it would take up to four weeks to consider alternatives, which include postponement. It has taken the possibility of canceling the games off the table.

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