The Canadian Olympic Committee says it won't send athletes to the Tokyo Games unless they're postponed for a year, becoming the first country to threaten such a move in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The committee sent out a statement Sunday evening saying it was willing to help the IOC search for alternatives, but that it was not safe for athletes, "their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these Games."
"In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow."
Canada brought 314 athletes who combined to win 22 medals at the Rio Games in 2016.
Some of its most notable performers included swimmer Penny Oleksiak and sprinter Andre De Grasse.
Canada joins a number of countries — including Norway, Brazil and Slovenia — that have pressed the IOC on a possible postponement. But none had flat-out said they wouldn't go if the games start when they're scheduled on July 24.
The IOC on Sunday said it would take up to four weeks to consider alternatives, which include postponement. It has taken the possibility of canceling the games off the table.
Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) office at Maulana Bhashani National Stadium here, remained closed from Sunday (March 22) to March 31 due to outbreak of deadlys Corona virus in the country and all over the world.
As per direction of BHF President Air Chief Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat, all kinds of hockey activities like hockey match, hockey practices will also be suspended at the hockey stadium during the period, addition to closure of its office at Bangabandhu National Stadium premises.
Hockey Federation also advised their officials and staffs to complete their necessary official job (except emergency) from home through online aiming to prevent the transmission of coronavirus and asked them to take care about the safety of them and their family members.
Meanwhile, International Hockey Federation also advised its member countries to follow the instruction of World Health Organization (WHO) as well as advised the world to take aggressive steps to stop the spread of the virus.
Earlier on Saturday, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) announced that it will follow the ‘work from home’ policy from Sunday (March 22), aiming to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.
The staff, who are not essential to stay at the office have been advised to work from home.
The BCB also announced that all sort of cricket will be stopped in the country until the next notice. With this step, the Bangabandhu Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League has been stopped indefinitely.
Before that, BCB had to stop the two-match T20I series between Asia XI and World XI which was scheduled to take place on March 21 and 22 to celebrate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation.
Not just in Bangladesh, but many sports events and sporting authorities have taken these steps around the globe as well.
The World Health Organization (WHO) already announced it as an epidemic and advised the world to take aggressive steps to stop the spread of the virus.
With more and more calls to postpone the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus outbreak, it's worth noting that this every-four-years spectacle has been rocked before by traumatic events.
Three other times, the games were canceled altogether because of World War I (1916) and World War II (1940 and 1944) — and in those latter two quadrennials, both the Summer and Winter Games were shelved.
A look at the Olympic Games that never were:
Berlin was set to host the 1916 Summer Olympics (the Winter Games weren't founded until 1924), beating bids from Alexandria, Amsterdam, Brussels, Budapest and Cleveland, according to GamesBids.com.
The German Empire even constructed a dazzling new facility to serve as the centerpiece of the games. Known as Deutsches Stadion, it opened well ahead of the games in 1913.
After the First World War erupted in July 1914, preparations carried on for a while since no one expected the hostilities to last another two years. But the horrific war lasted until 1918, eventually forcing the Olympics to be canceled.
The Berlin stadium was demolished some two decades later and replaced by a new structure that would serve as the main stadium for the 1936 Summer Games, when the German capital finally got another chance to host. Of course, Adolf Hitler had risen to power by then, leaving those games to be remembered ominously for promoting the Nazi regime that would eventually lead the world into an even more catastrophic war.
In an era when the selected nation got the option of hosting both the Summer and Winter Games in the same year, Japan was a surprising choice as the first non-Western country to be awarded the Olympics. Tokyo was to be the summer host, with Sapporo getting the winter version.
Again, war got in the way.
Japan invaded China in 1937, prompting the Asian country to surrender its hosting duties the next year after some military leaders reportedly demanded that venues be constructed from wood because metals were needed for the war effort.
The International Olympic Committee hastily named Helsinki, runner-up in the initial bidding, to serve as summer city, with the winter events going to 1928 host St. Moritz, Switzerland. A dispute with Swiss organizers led to one more change, as the Winter Games were shifted a second time to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the German host in 1936 alongside Berlin.
Of course, after World War II erupted in September 1939 with Germany's invasion of Poland, the Olympics were canceled altogether. Tokyo would eventually get a chance to host the Summer Games in 1964 — still the first Asian city to receive the honor — while Sapporo landed the 1972 Winter Games.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, and after all that scrambling to find replacement hosts for 1940, the IOC awarded London the 1944 Summer Games in balloting that also included Athens, Budapest, Detroit, Helsinki, Lausanne, Montreal and Rome.
With England not a feasible host for the Winter Games, that event was awarded to Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
The 1944 Olympics never had a chance. World War II dragged on until the following year.
London would then be awarded the 1948 Summer Games, the first in a dozen years and staged in austere conditions as the city continued to recover from the war. In 2012, the British capital became the first three-time host.
St. Moritz hosted the Winter Games for a second time in 1948, while Cortina eventually got another shot with the 1956 Winter Olympics.
Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz died Saturday from the new coronavirus, his family said. He was 76.
Sanz had been in intensive care since the beginning of the week while being treated for the virus.
Sanz presided over Madrid from 1995 until 2000, leading the club to two European titles, a Spanish league title and a Spanish Super Cup title.
Under Sanz, Madrid ended a 32-year drought in Europe by winning its seventh European trophy in 1998.
Madrid said Sanz was survived by his wife, Mari Luz, and five children.
More than 24,000 people have been infected with the virus in Spain, with nearly 1,400 deaths.
The Olympic flame has arrived in Japan from Greece. Next comes the torch relay around the country, which is scheduled to start on Thursday from Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan. Organizers have asked crowds to be restrained, but have been imprecise about what that means. Greek officials last week stopped a relay there on the second day and did not resume because of crowd size.
In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese organizers and IOC President Thomas Bach say that the games will open on July 24 at the $1.43 billion national stadium in central Tokyo.
Bach has said repeatedly it's too early to announce a final decision, saying he's taking advice from a task force that includes the World Health Organization. But now there's push back, mostly from athletes and former Olympians who are complaining: they can't train, qualifying events have been cancelled, and the chaos is sure to favor some over others. Then there's the question of bringing 11,000 athletes and staff together in the Olympic Village, and 4,400 Paralympians a month later.
Getting the flame to Japan represents a minor victory for both organizers and the IOC. Its symbolic presence could give the IOC space to postpone the Tokyo Olympics, leaving the symbol behind as a reminder of what's still to come.
Q: What is the deadline for making a final decision?
A: Bach surely knows, but he is not saying. In an interview with the New York Times Bach said "cancellation is not on the agenda." That leaves only going ahead, or postponement, as the options. Empty venues seem to have been ruled out.
Q: Who will make the final decision?
A: It will be made jointly with the IOC, the city of Tokyo, and the Japanese Olympic Committee. They are the three that signed the 81-page Host City Agreement, which spells out in enormous details all games contingencies. The IOC has all the leverage, though it will have to honor WHO suggestions and the interests of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The IOC has a reserve fund of about $2 billion and insurance to cover losses. The contract says termination can occur "... if the IOC has reasonable grounds to believe, in its sole discretion, that the safety of participants in the games is seriously threatened or jeopardized for any reason, whatsoever."
Tokyo is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, but a national audit says it's at least twice that much.
Q: What is the push back you are talking about?
A: The most recent is from USA Swimming, which is calling for a 12-month postponement. CEO Tim Hinchey wrote the following in a letter to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee: "Everyone has experienced unimaginable disruptions, mere months before the Olympic Games, which calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all. Our athletes are under tremendous pressure, stress and anxiety, and their mental health and wellness should be among the highest priorities."
Another voice earlier in the week was from IOC member Hayley Wickenheiser, the four-time gold medalist from Canada.
"I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity," she said. "This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics."
On the Japan side, Japanese Olympic Committee member Kaori Yamaguchi told the newspaper Nikkei that the IOC "is putting athletes at risk." Yamaguchi is a former Olympic bronze medalist in judo.
"Even if there is a reason that prevents the IOC from making a decision right now, (the IOC) should indicate a deadline." She was critical last year when Bach abruptly moved the marathon out of Tokyo to Sapporo. She said such a sudden move was "not acceptable."
Q: How important is the torch relay to the IOC and local organizers?
A: It's important symbolism for the Japanese government and Prime Minister Abe. Abe is Japan's longest-serving premier and hopes to use the Olympics to argue that the Fukushima area has recovered from the disaster nine years ago. The government has dubbed these "The Recovery Olympics." However, many residents are still living in temporary quarters after the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of three nuclear reactors in 2011.
Getting the relay started from Fukushima also helps major IOC sponsors Coca-Cola and Toyota, who pay millions to give their brands exposure during the relay. Crowds are being asked to be restrained. This will not keep the images of the relay from being transmitted daily around the globe on television. Bach is expected to watch the relay when it reaches Hiroshima on May 18-19.
Q: Any bookmaker taking odds?
A: Irish bookmaker says 1-7 games will not open as schedule at July 24. A poll by Japanese news agency Kyodo this week showed 69.9% of Japanese questioned do not believe the games will begin on time.