Swimming Canada supports US after Americans call for Olympic postponement

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Swimming Canada says it backs its rivals from the United States when it comes to finding a solution for the Olympic Games.

Early Friday, the head of USA Swimming sent a letter urging the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to push the International Olympic Committee for a 12-month postponement of the Tokyo Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Swimming Canada's CEO Ahmed El-Awadi followed with a statement, saying his organization shares many of the same concerns. Swimming Canada did not go as far in pushing for a postponement, but did say there are "serious issues" with asking athletes to prepare for the Olympics during a pandemic.

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Both CEOs voiced their concerns after the IOC doubled down earlier in the week with the hope the Games can still open July 24 despite every other major sport in the world currently being suspended or cancelled.

"We are very much aligned with many of the points USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey has raised," said El-Awadi.

"Telling athletes to prepare for an Olympic Games during a global pandemic raises serious issues. We hold the opinions of our brothers and sisters at USA Swimming in high regard, and share many of the same concerns around health and safety. That includes the safety and well-being of our athletes — both physically and mentally — and the safety of the community at large."?

El-Awadi says that each day that goes by without a decision from the IOC creates more stress and anxiety for the athletes, who are expected to keep training for an event that may not even happen.

"It is extremely difficult to maintain training without pools, which are closed across the country and in many countries worldwide," said El-Awadi.

A growing number of Canadian athletes have already voiced their displeasure with Olympic leaders such as president Thomas Bach after regional Olympic officials on Wednesday rallied around the IOC and backed its stance on opening the Tokyo Games as scheduled.

Four-time Olympic hockey gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser, who is also on the IOC committee, said the IOC's decision to stick with a July 24 start to the Games was "irresponsible given the state of humanity."

As the IOC attempts to keep the 2020 Olympics on schedule, many of the events that determine who would compete in Tokyo have been postponed or cancelled.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on March 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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