Canada skipping World Athletics Relays because of COVID-19 concerns

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OTTAWA — Athletics Canada will not send a team to the World Athletics Relays next month in Poland because of COVID-19 concerns.

The organization says the decision to skip the key Olympic qualifier was made in light of the COVID-19 situation in Poland, Canada and around the world.

The relay squad has been in Baton Rouge, La., over the past week for a training camp.

The only Canadian team guaranteed to be on the start line in Tokyo is the women’s 4x400-metre relay team that placed eighth at the 2019 world track and field championships in Doha, Qatar.

Athletics Canada says it feels the risks outweighed the rewards of travelling.

Canada was scheduled to send a team of 24 athletes to the two-day event, which begins May 1.

Australia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States are some of the other top countries skipping the event.

“The safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority,” Athletics Canada’s high performance director Simon Nathan said in a statement. “Though showing signs of improvement, Poland is reporting a very high level of COVID-19 and travellers are strongly encouraged to avoid all non-essential travel in and out of Poland, even those who are fully vaccinated."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press