Updated: Canada & Australia Withdraw From 2020 Olympics

Mar 23, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Canadian Catherine Pendrel didn t have a good start and than she had some troubles in the rockgarden as well. She was around 20th place in first lap one minute down.

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees have become the first national organizations to publicly commit to not competing in the Games this summer. Canada will not send its athletes on the currently scheduled dates, due to the coronavirus pandemic and they are proposing the Games be held in 2021 instead.

The committees said: "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. This is not solely about athlete health - it is about public health. With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games."

Major milestone for Haley Smith today. She earned her first UCI World Cup podium in third and the fastest lap time in the Women s field. She s been climbing that ladder steady now.

We reached out to some of Canada's Olympic hopefuls to find out how they reacted to the decision and how it affects their season:

bigquotesFirst, I feel that this is the correct decision, and I also feel like the IOC is already on the same page. I’m not an insider, but I feel confident that the Olympics WILL happen, they just may not happen in July. Whatever the outcome, there is no question that the health and safety of society has to come first. So while this is a painful reality to handle, it is the only acceptable course of action. Canada has taken a strong stance here and has asserted itself as a global leader in this decision, which is admirable. Sticking your neck out first is always a scary thing to do, but as other athletes have said, Canada will be on the right side of history here. All we can do now is await the decision of the IOC and IPC. I’m hopeful that they will reach the same conclusions as the COC and CPC.

This decision was only announced last night, so I don’t think I’ve fully processed it yet. Obviously, it’s confirmation that my goals for 2020 have to change. I will not be standing on a start line in Tokyo on July 28th. You’d think that the abrupt change in my life’s all-consuming goal would have made it hard to get out of bed this morning… but on the contrary, I was awake at 5am with a racing mind. The next few days will be about re-centering and refocusing (which, admittedly, is hard to do when your ultimate goal doesn’t have a confirmed date). I am fully committed to my dream of representing Canada at the Olympics, so that hasn’t changed. And the steps required to be there haven’t changed, either. I expect that I’ll take an unstructured week, and then get back into training. It’s important for me to remember that while the Olympics are the ultimate goal, there are other things to work for in a slightly more immediate sense: chasing the World Cup podium and a national title, for example. Plus, training is cumulative and the clock doesn’t really reset every year. So what I do now will definitely have an impact on my readiness come the Olympics.

This is a challenging period and I don’t really know what to feel, but my bike has given me the tools to get through this: resilience, determination, and an ability to focus on the present. That’s really all I can do right now - take it one week (or one day) at a time and trust that my steps will take me through the other side of this.
Haley Smith

bigquotesI feel emotional regarding the COC’s response to not send athletes to the currently scheduled games. I completely understand, respect and agree with the rational and logic, but it stings a little. I think the biggest thing to get my head around is how all of the planning and work put forth into the 2020 season so far is no longer relevant. Adaptation is key - refocusing for late summer, early fall is my focus now. It is becoming harder and harder to invest in any previously scheduled plans since the situation continues to change. I believe that Team Canada’s stance is the right one given the situation and it should help to encourage a postponement of the games - something that was not even on the table merely a few weeks ago.

Training is most definitely effected. As I eluded to earlier, it becomes more and more challenging to invest in planning for anything because the situation is so fluid. To be completely honest my motivation right now is fuelled by the thought that I should ride outside while I still have the chance, before the country or province goes on complete lockdown. As for my goals moving forward - obviously all race related goals have kind of gone out the window. Instead I am reverting back to goals that I carry through the off season and endurance base building season. Goals such as learning a new skill (bike related or not) or working on technique. Personally, the goals I am putting stock into and focusing on are short term in nature because the future is so uncertain. Simply put, I’ll be working on loose gravel corners tomorrow, pedalling technique the next day and revisit my goal setting the day after that.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be self quarantining on and off the bike with fellow teammates since our return from the cancelled US Cups in California last week. I understand some people are off / out of work. I understand that your buddies might be in the same situation. This does not mean tailgate parties in the parking lot of your favourite trail network. People who don’t respect the requests to abstain from large group rides, commingling outside of their household and taking unnecessary risks will force the governing bodies to ban these outdoor activities we all love. These are crazy times - don’t make them crazier.
Peter Disera

bigquotesWe have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty over the last two+ weeks with how to properly train for an uncertain return to competition date all while self-isolating, but I remained hopeful for a positive solution… maybe seeing a fall games. Having this door closed is sad, but I remain hopeful for all involved that the IOC will take the decision to host in 2021 so that all nationals can focus on more immediate concerns and properly prepare for the Olympics next year without a cloud of uncertainty hanging over us. Of course this could really alter selections and any number of factors but I think we just all have to be extremely adaptable right now.

I am starting to look at it like a typical season where we aim to have peak form for a September World Championships. I am hopeful we can have a really exciting fall of competitions and look forward to the snow melting off our trails in Kamloops.

I think now is a really good time to think about why we ride. It's not to win medals, it's because it makes us happy. I think this summer it's really important we do things on our bike that make us happy...safely of course... but get fitter, faster stronger because that feels really good!
Catharine Pendrel

Australia also announced it would not be sending athletes to Tokyo in 2020. A statement read: "The AOC Executive Board unanimously agreed that an Australian team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad. The AOC believes our athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their national federations. It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July. Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them. They have also shouldered the burden of concern for their peers around the world."

The announcements were the first concrete sign we've had that the Olympics may not be going ahead as scheduled this summer. They were followed shortly by New Zealand and Great Britain also saying theycould consider a boycott if the Games went ahead as scheduled.

Neither Japan nor the IOC have said they are considering cancelling the event however Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that postponing them could be a possibility for the first time earlier today. He said: "If it is difficult to hold the games in such a way, we have to decide to postpone them, giving top priority to the well-being of the athletes. Although the IOC will make a final decision, we are of the same view that cancellation is not an option.” An official decision will reportedly be taken in 4 weeks.

Press Release: The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees (joint statement)

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 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 and we offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring. 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.

This is not solely about athlete health - it is about public health. With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games. In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.

The COC and CPC reviewed the letter and news release sent Sunday by the IOC. We are thankful to the IOC for its assurance that it will not be cancelling the Tokyo 2020 Games and appreciative that it understands the importance of accelerating its decision-making regarding a possible postponement.

We also applaud the IOC for acknowledging that safeguarding the health and wellness of nations and containing the virus must be our paramount concern. We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport.

The COC and CPC would like to thank our athletes, partners and the Canadian sport community for their patience and for lending us their voices during these unprecedented times. We remain hopeful that the IOC and IPC will agree with the decision to postpone the Games as a part of our collective responsibility to protect our communities and work to contain the spread of the virus.

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Regions in Article


  • 171 0
 There’s this saying, ‘You can somehow recover lost wealth, but you can never get back lost health’.

The situation right now is so dynamic, we can never know what’s gonna happen next. But this teaches us to cherish and not to rake things for granted. Say what you will, a government conspiracy, a cover-up or whatever other reason you can come up with. But there’s no denying the fact that someone is getting sick every other second.

I’m doing my part, no group rides, no rampage lines, more home time. Heck I may be a nobody, but I ain’t gonna be That nobody who’s gonna put others at risk.

Be safe all. Tomorrow will be a new day.
  • 6 0
 I love this THANK YOU Smile stay well and safe x
  • 7 26
flag jorgeposada (Mar 23, 2020 at 5:55) (Below Threshold)
 The media takes the gold in every event.
  • 5 48
flag justinhoelzl (Mar 23, 2020 at 6:17) (Below Threshold)
 This just screws the athletes if the event goes on, most likely will never get a shot at this again and somebody else made that decision for them.
  • 54 3
 @justinhoelzl: Do you want to speak to COVID-19's manager and propose they do this pandemic another time?
  • 5 22
flag justinhoelzl (Mar 23, 2020 at 7:58) (Below Threshold)
 @cgreaseman: either push to cancel/postpone the whole thing or find some other way to host it, ie spectator free etc, these people have worked their whole lives to make it to this stage just for someone to tell them they cant even though the event is still going on is backwards, they should be standing up for their athletes trying to get it postponed, not withdrawing them because it looks good
  • 2 2
 @justinhoelzl: I'd put money on the idea that are going to change at the IOC level that reflects your thoughts... just hasn't happened yet and they won't do anything until it gets increasingly dire and more countries pull out.
  • 3 0
 @Ben-79 The IOC HAS postponed the 2020 Games. No date yet.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, a committee member told USA Today in an interview Monday.

"On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided," veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told the newspaper. "The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know."
  • 1 0
 @Augustus-G: saw that, awesome news!
  • 1 0
 @Augustus-G: Yes, a great move in these trying times. And yes, with this decision, many sources of income are getting affected at all levels but like I’ve said, health before wealth!
  • 65 2
 This whole situation just shows how corrupt and profiteering the IOC is. Just like the UCI they’ve got no interest in sport, just money. Governments around the world are struggling to persuade their populations to take this seriously and idiots like the IOC trying to carry on as normal aren’t helping one bit, not to mention their apparent willingness to put athletes lives at risk.
  • 15 0
 Yeah idk why the press release took 2 paragraphs just sucking the IOC off when they are (up to this point) completely disregarding public health. Hopefully they smarten up by the time they come around.
  • 4 0
 It's not the lives of the athletes they're risking.
  • 27 0
 I guess the IOC can't return all those bribes
  • 4 0
 Organizers are of course reluctant of cancelling events because of possible liability costs. They wait for the local authorities to forbid the event. Then they have a case of Force Majeure, and can not be sued...

Isn't this inevitable cancellation a decision for the Japanese authorities?
  • 2 18
flag RoadStain (Mar 23, 2020 at 3:57) (Below Threshold)
 Wait, what one of their leaders is it that puts a gun to the heads of the participants? I missed those images. I do not remember that guy at OTC Springs or Cleremont, but, may be different in the Great White North.
  • 8 1
 @RoadStain: Wow really, that's what you come up with. Doesn't sound like you've spent any serious amount of time training for anything.
  • 3 10
flag RoadStain (Mar 23, 2020 at 6:38) (Below Threshold)
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: Well, other than a national team and hanging out at OTC, you are correct.
  • 2 0
 Not that the IOC isn’t corrupt, but organizing the Olympics are a lot more costly and complex than people realize. There’s not just billions on the line, but permanent and temporary venues and facilities, housing for the athletes, transportation lines. In Tokyo, for example, the housing they’ve built for the athletes are apartments they already sold to people for after the Games. Of they delay a year, where will they house the athletes? It’s not so simple just to delay them. I know it’s hard to have sympathy for the IOC, but I guess I don’t blame them for holding on as long as they can, even if it’s delaying the inevitable.
  • 2 0
 @RoadStain: if you can’t appreciate the corruption of the IOC, you are either naive or drunk on the kool aid
  • 5 1
 precisely why my city (Calgary) voted to not have the olympics here, i mean, it would have been cool but the overwhelming corruption and greed of the IOC overshadowed the benefits of having the games.
  • 2 0
 @arrowheadrush: Correction... Calgary didn’t want to pay the bribes twice. It hosted the Games in 1988.
  • 1 1
 @cmcrawfo: Oh no, I more than get it. I was once right there in the mix of it....that said, I do not recall anyone wtih any guns making threats to perform. Well, they did have IV bags and odd numbers of pills ;-)
  • 3 2
 @TheR: Tell that to LA....I think that most of the venues are now homeless encampments.
  • 1 0
 @TheR: yup and most of the venues from '88 are still well used and the training grounds for many of the current Canadian athletes. although the IOC is a whole different beast these days
  • 6 0
 @RoadStain: Most of LA is now homeless encampments.
  • 46 2
 Canada first, Australia second, New Zealand third... said no gymnastics commentator ever.
  • 6 0
 I don't understand gymnastics jokes but I still laugh. Now Google time !
  • 9 0
 Ok we suck badly..
  • 3 0
 I'm guessing canada sucks at gymnastics. Makes sense since my friend's rythmic team finished last in 2010 Olympics lol.
  • 18 0
 Well done Canada +1, I suspect we will start to see other countries now following.
  • 10 0
 The cost of putting on the Olympics is somewhere between 60-80 Billion. I would not be surprised if this is slowing down the decision making.
  • 3 0
 I'm not sure of the true costs associated with the Olympics, but I do agree with your statement. Economics and Public Saftey/Health live independent of each other. When these independent lines begin to look as though the are going to intersect, people get nervous. I'm guessing that the majority of the delays in government issued "Stay At Home" rules were delayed due to the cost to the economy and not to public safety.
  • 13 2
 Cancel the Olympics and never bring them back.
  • 11 0
 Proud Canadian.
  • 2 1
 Don't confuse statism for patriotism
  • 8 0
 well done, Canada
  • 4 1
 It's the right call. I still can't believe IOC hasn't cancelled it all together. Seems like it would be a no brainer to shut it down for the time being, but I suspect there are other things afoot.
  • 3 1
 @justinhoelzl Of course the dumbest comment of the day comes from america, good on ya new york! In all seriousness, if two weeks ago, let alone today, you were still thinking the olympics would go on as scheduled, well I'm not sure anything anyone can say at this point is going to make even the slightest bit of sense to you. Just cant fix stupid...............
  • 3 3
 Apparently you can't read what I said, so thats on you. Good on you california, for having the worst public schools in the country and not teaching people how to read and decipher basic english. Easy clap backs and stupidy aside, reread my two comments, and then come back and tell me if your comment makes sense. Also a quick look at your profile, all your recent comments seem quite angry, always have to be asserting yourself over people. Seems pretty comparable to a leader of ours. Maybe chill out, realize this is a bike website, not a hot head central, and enjoy boosting people up for all the actual awesome stuff people do & create on this website, and not just tear at people because you got some built up anger.
  • 1 3
 @justinhoelzl: Lol thanks for looking into my profile, since you're interested: I enjoy long walks on the beach, pissing off new yorkers and a good pinot.

Your words:

"This just screws the athletes if the event goes on, most likely will never get a shot at this again and somebody else made that decision for them."

Seems to be complaining about life not being fair and debating the merit of Canadia's decision to pull the plug on their olympic participation this year, which was an important and symbolic gesture that should have come sooner and not just canada. Now gnoring the stupidity of a fairness argument, lets pretend to have a discussion (I know its painful, just relax and it'll be done sooner). In a pandemic situation that has escalated beyond all predictions (and all modern history short of the 1918 Spanish Influenza), are we really going to pretend that its tragic that athletes will miss out on this?? Are you kidding me, this is a life or death topic, the world is on pause right now, that sort of thing does not happen for anything short of world war. Like I said earlier if you didn't realize back in February that the olympics were not going to take place then you did not and likely still do not understand the situation. "Quick somebody get this guy a job up at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave!! Kids got talent!"

And yes we do have many problems in this state, no money for anything, too many people for everything. We'd love it if the rest of they country would stop coming here, please tell your friends we're all a*sholes, our schools suck, our riding is even worse. Surfing is a lie too, I mean it didn't even really become an olympic sport after all now did it, they lied.

Finally I would like to congratulate you on your incredible effort of discerning that I am angry. As a healthcare provider watching this situation unfold I am beyond angry. You should be too. When something comes along that endangers the health and well being of your community and the actions of your countrys leaders and a surprisingly large percentage of citizens fall completely short of appropriate, anger should be the response. Similarly, but of magnitudes less importance, I am a rider and watching the way that e-mtbs are being used by individuals and ignored by land managers makes me very angry as it definitely poses an access risk. Still anrgy but not at you man, sorry text is a funny way to communicate and I didnt intend to piss you off with the first message, however this was fully intentional. But dont worry I won't say anything to hurt your feelings anymore
  • 2 1
 1st off to get this out of the way since you seem to really dwell on it, I am not from new york, so fear not, that means there is a*sholes like me likely in every state. 2nd thing to clarify is I am by no means angry with you at all and I think that is visible through my rhetoric. The situation unfolding, different, to me it is not a hard concept, just lay low and do things solo. However, people still want to do whatever they want, and thats up to them, I can just do my part. To the important things:

I have never said the event should go on, I said if the Olympics did not care enough about this situation to postpone and host, I guarantee, these athletes would feel and be robbed. The goal shouldn't be for countrys to pull out till the olympics to do something, it should be that they actually care about the athletes and the competitiveness of the event and realize the only option is to postpone or cancel. I also wouldn't doubt that if the countrys wouldnt have any say over "their" athletes, 99% would still show up.

I dont really care about the whole state arguement because i find it beyond stupid, so you can have that one since you feel so passionately about that. Following that, not really sure why I should give a shit that surfing didnt become an olympic sport. Likely same reason downhill hasnt, community doesnt want it. However I have no grounds because I (charlie) dont surf, so for all I know, it could be a big ole lie.

Ya I understand you being angry given the situation and your position, but what is freaking about about other people going to do? Control the controllable, only thing you can control is yourself. People, especially dumb stupid americans as you think of them, hate being told what to do. Ya that sucks for situations like this but understanding that will take things a lot farther as it is completely unproductive to tell a bunch of college students partying on the beaches of florida or cali that they cant do that, even though this pandemic will likely not have a physical effect on them (gonna f*ck them when they graduate and cant find a job though). Carrot or the stick. Give them an option, hey you can do this, but dont go see grandma or your parents or go to grocery store after. You need to make things personal otherwise people dont give a shit.

The one subject we already agree on is e-mtb, however, how it is handled is the important part. Bitching on pinkbike unfortunately doesn't do anything, if anything it isolates both parties and makes them more stubborn and stuck to there ways (similar to a certain political situation). I/we are dealing with the same thing over here and as a trail builders i really get how scary it is to have the idea of loosing it all because of a couple stubborn clowns. i have put countless hours, mostly by myself, into the things i have built and i feel i really havent built that much, the idea of having that all go to waste keeps me up at night and about others who have been at it longer than i have. Usually the best way isnt to complain about the problem, it is to do something about it, go to the land managers and explain, hey this isnt us, we view this no differently than if a moto were to come rip up are trails. we are doing all that we can to get rid of them but dont shoot the messenger.

Closing: You didn't piss me off with the first message and you didnt with this either. And don't worry about hurting my feelings, since you really thought you were going to. What I would like to cover one more time because i think it is very important since you love california so much, is the way you acted definitely does not make you a good representative of the state. definitely not very chill surfer bro of you. many would say you acted in a wall street or manhattan-esque manner, very entitled and know it all. Was trying to end on a good note but you left off on a jab so i guess im just following the leader. Praying you dont loose trail access and the world doesnt end from this virus, best of luck with figuring out e-mtbs, think if the community explains their case and really puts in effort to be outstanding trail users (in regards to respect for other users and putting in work) you guys will be fine. In regards to corona, I dont know, you tell me whats gonna happen, you are the healthcare provider whatever roll that may be.
  • 3 0
 Welp that's it. The beginning of the end. 2020 is a mulligan year.. too bad we're all gonna have to age with it.
  • 3 0
 Shinjo just said ‘maybe postoned’ so that means it’s off for a year. I agree with Team Canada! Way to lead, eh.
  • 5 1
 IOC bribes aren't refundable so they're still pushing to go ahead.
  • 3 0
 They are probably smart to just wait this one out!
  • 7 23
flag RoadStain (Mar 23, 2020 at 5:46) (Below Threshold)
 Plus, gives more time for the men to get their testosterone levels down to race as womyn.
  • 4 3
 The year I book Whistler, this happens. If I dont get to the mountains this year I'm gona be bummed out. Leogang is open in October so fingers crossed.
  • 5 1
 Man, I put down a £1K deposit on a custom Orbea last month. First new bike in five years. I feel like I tempted fate.
  • 5 0
 @rsbromley: man I feel sorry for you. They've completely abandoned all communication with me after failing to provide me a rideable replacement for my lifetime warrantied frame 7kUSD build. I hope you get yours before 2022.
  • 8 0
 @rsbromley: I just bought a Van and can't use it!! Probably have to cancel my Morzine trip in July also. Unfortunate situation but minor sacrifices for the greater good.
  • 3 0
 @Davec85: Yeah, definitely. Even if I got my bike tomorrow, it’s not like I’d ride it. I’d definitely spend all day staring at it though. Maybe stroking it.
  • 3 11
flag mkotowski1 (Mar 23, 2020 at 6:52) (Below Threshold)
 @lifeofloon: moral of the story, don’t buy a 7k piece of plastic
  • 6 0
 @mkotowski1: moral of my story don't jump to conclusions so you can try and play your moral high high ground game. Aluminium frame and rear triangle that the same chainstay weld has cracked twice on. I paid for the build which has held up with no issues for many years. The frame on the other hand not so much. You'd think though that a company would want to take care of their customers regardless.
  • 1 0
 @mkotowski1: on a side note: my 3kUSD "piece of plastic" hardtail that is just as old and has had crap beaten out of it, is still going strong with only some minor cosmetic blems from the years of abuse riding the same everyday trails as my Orbea did.
  • 1 1
 @lifeofloon: I wouldn’t recommend anyone spend 7 grand on a bike made from any material
  • 1 0
 @rsbromley: some guy in Carlisle selling a Rallon in large with factory setup on Facebook with silverfish receipts if that's any good for you? Assuming your getting a Rallon? I am getting out on my bike doing food delivers to avoid not being able to ride in the inevitable lock down.
  • 1 0
 @drmantistobogganmd: Nah, ordered an Oiz. Cheers for the heads up though.
  • 2 0
 It seems the Tokyo test race was the only race in Tokyo. Well, well, with a victory in Tokyo, Nino.
  • 1 1
 Maybe we could change world champs format this year, so if it runs, its less of an all or nothing race run. The aim would be to make it safer for riders while giving brands exposure, Make a week of it with extended coverage.
  • 3 1
 I'm of the opinion that the Games should be postponed until next year, not an outright cancellation.
  • 3 0
 Fair enough
  • 20 17
 Blame Canada.
  • 18 2
 With all their beady little eyes And flappin' heads so full of lies
  • 3 0
 @yerbikesux: made me chuckle Smile
  • 7 6
 Blame your so called leader.
  • 10 3
 @imbiker: although our leader, if you can call him that, is obviously inept at handling this someone obviously didn't get the Southpark reference.
  • 6 1
 @imbiker: whooooooosh!!!!
  • 1 0
 Blimey, I wonder which countries will follow and what decisions are being put in place by IOC..
  • 3 1
 Is she crashing into the microphone??
  • 2 0
 Fu@k the IOC. Greedy bastards.
  • 4 3
 It is on certain newspapers that the Olympic Games will be held in 2021.
  • 9 6
 Well, that seals it! It was in a news paper.....
  • 2 1
 @RoadStain: the one that laughs last, laughs better.
  • 3 2
 Good decision Canada. Lets home Team GB do the same.
  • 5 4
  • 4 0
 Yep, by Japan.
  • 3 0
 @endlessblockades: Truly. Given how successful they've been in limiting Covid-19 in Japan, I'd be amazed if public health officials there weren't lobbying hard to cancel/postpone.
  • 1 0
 They just announced its canceled.
  • 5 7
 F word
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