OTTAWA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Canada announced on Sunday night that it will not send Canadian athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it will not send teams to Tokyo unless the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24, are postponed by a year.
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), backed by their Athletes' Commissions, National Sports Organizations and the Government of Canada, have made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020, the statement read.
The COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to postpone the games for one year. We offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring.
We recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community, adds the statement.
The statement comes amid mounting criticism of the IOC's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
IOC president Thomas Bach said earlier on Sunday that the organization would set a deadline of four weeks to determine the fate of the games, and that it is considering other options including postponement.
Bach's comments mark the first time that the IOC has admitted that it would consider options other than the scheduled running of the Games.