Australian athletes who are training around the world will be returning home.

By Cailey Rizzo
March 23, 2020
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Amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, Olympic teams from Canada and Australia have formally withdrawn their athletes from the 2020 Olympics games.

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced in a statement that they will not send their athletes to Tokyo this summer. And the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is telling their athletes to prepare “for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021,” according to a press release.

In a press release Sunday, Team Canada announced that continuing to train its athletes for the games this summer would “[run] counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow...We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport.”

The AOC announced that its athletes, who are training around the world, will be returning home to their families and training with the intent of competing next year.

“It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July,” Australian Team Chef de Mission for Tokyo, Ian Chesterman, said in a statement. “Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them.”

Australia's water polo and swimming teams have shared their support for the country's decision on social media.

Getty Images

Team Canada called for the Olympics to be postponed for one year. “While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the press release said.

On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent a letter to participating Olympic national teams, saying the committee would reassess “the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement.” The IOC hopes to reach a final decision within four weeks. The committee reiterated that “cancellation is not on the agenda.”

For the first time, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics might have to be postponed. “When it comes to hosting the 2020 Games, I don’t believe the world is in any condition to do so at this time,” Abe said during a parliamentary session Monday, according to The Japan Times.

Brazil, Norway and Slovenia have also requested that the IOC postpone the games.

While Team USA has not formally requested the Olympic Committee postpone the games, there has been pressure from individual sports. The heads of USA Swimming and USA Track and Field wrote to the CEO of Team USA, asking for the group to advocate for postponing the event, according to The Associated Press.

The games are still scheduled to begin in Tokyo on July 24.

Watch the CEO of Australia's Olympic Committee's press conference here: