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Guinea reverses course, decides to rejoin Tokyo Olympics just in time

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Well, it looks like Guinea is back in.

After backing out of the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Guinea has reversed course and will now instead participate in the Games as scheduled, according to Reuters.

The reversal came just hours ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony.

Guinea backed out of Olympics briefly

Guinea said Wednesday that it was pulling its five athletes out of the Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Due to the resurgence of COVID variants, the government, concerned with preserving the health of Guinean athletes, has decided with regret to cancel Guinea’s participation in the 32nd Olympics scheduled for Tokyo,” the African nation said in a statement.

The country was sending five athletes to the Games, two swimmers, a runner, a judo competitor and a freestyle wrestler.

Though the country said that the pandemic was why it was bailing on the Games, the AFP reported that funding for the athletes and the rest of the delegation from Guinea was a much bigger issue. Funds for the delegation were released just “days before” the move to withdraw, per The Associated Press.

The International Olympic Committee was “extremely surprised by the last-minute decision” to back out, according to Reuters, and sent a letter to Guinea’s Olympic committee urging it to reconsider.

“We are convinced that this is a misunderstanding because you know all necessary measures have been taken by the IOC and Tokyo 2020 to guarantee the health of athletes and participants,” the letter read, in part, via Reuters.

Is it not too late?

Well, that’s not really clear.

Guinea was really only out of the Olympics for a matter of hours, which helps its case to rejoin the event at the last second. It did opt back in before both the swimming competition and judo competition kick off on Saturday, too.

The decision to participate also came ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony. While that’s completely symbolic, it’s hard to imagine that the IOC would allow any athletes or countries to join the event after it’s official start.

So, at least in this situation, it appears Guinea got back in just in time.

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