As the debate continues over whether the Tokyo Olympics should proceed as planned, an internal letter from AthletesCAN – the organization that represents all of Canada’s national team athletes – is questioning the International Olympic Committee’s level of empathy, as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
CBC Sports obtained a copy of the internal email sent to all AthletesCAN members on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the growing spread of the novel coronavirus – that began in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, and that as of this writing has killed nearly 13,000 worldwide with over 300,00 confirmed cases – the IOC has repeatedly insisted that the Summer Games will open in Tokyo as scheduled on July 24, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 25.
In recent days, the IOC’s insistence has started to draw heavy fire. What began with a few dissident voices has quickly grown into a swell. On Friday, USA Swimming called for a 12-month postponement —a move also backed by Swimming Canada.
And on Saturday, USA Track and Field said it also supported a postponement. Soon after, the Norwegian Olympic Committee echoed these sentiments, saying the Olympics should wait until the COVID-19 situation is under control.
Against this unnerving background, AthletesCAN – raised its own doubts over the single-mindedness of Olympic organizers, and the increasingly muddy qualifying schedule.
“While we desperately want to believe that health and safety of all involved in the Games is the utmost priority for the IOC, IPC (International Paralympic Committee) and TOC (Tokyo Organizing Committee), at times, the communication has lacked empathy in recognizing athletes as humans first, and athletes second,” AthletesCAN wrote.
The letter goes on to say, “We, as much as you, do not want to see the Games cancelled. However, we want to know that if push came to shove, no one’s safety would be sacrificed, and unbiased, transparent leadership would prevail.”
WATCH | Impact of COVID-19 on Tokyo 2020:
With only 57 per cent of Olympics spots currently decided, and qualifying events falling like dominoes as the global pandemic continues to spread, many Canadian athletes remain in limbo.
With their Olympic dreams on the line, the internal letter suggests athletes are torn. The organization says they understand that “athletes are currently in a very unpredictable and difficult position. Especially as workout facilities and training centres around the country have been forced to close.
AthletesCAN writes that athletes are having to choose between listening “to public health authorities” and staying inside, or find a way to continue their training and “risk it for the sake of qualifying or doing well at the Games.”
WATCH | Canadian athletes weigh in on IOC’s continued preparations:
“For those who are still working on qualifying for the Games, we understand the additional stress you must be feeling as you watch more and more opportunities to do so be cancelled or delayed.”
The organization, however, goes on to stress that “as athletes, we are role models for Canadians and youth across the globe. Let us act as role models in solidarity with our neighbours and health care workers to do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus. Flattening the curve is a collective exercise – we must all do our part.”
IOC attempts to ease athlete jitters
The IOC made a number of calls on Wednesday to reassure jittery partners, including one with more than 200 athlete-representatives from around the world.
“It was constructive in a way that everybody realized that we have still more than four months to go and we will address this action,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.
“We said we were going to continue to be very realistic in our analysis.” Bach said the IOC will continue to push toward Tokyo while “safeguarding the health of the athletes and contributing to the containment of the virus.”
As Canada’s athletes navigate these uncertain times, AthletesCAN also went on to echo Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on Friday regarding his “sincere appreciation for our health care workers on the front lines, especially those coming out of retirement.”
The letter closes by encouraging Canada’s athletes to be both resourceful and creative “in adapting your training and mindset to remain healthy and safe.” And a belief that “the next few weeks will bring a significant amount of clarity on not only the Games, but a lot of aspects of our daily lives.”
Greatest Moments of NHL Season … So Far: first round, matchup 5 – NHL.com
The 2019-20 NHL season had many incredible moments before it paused March 12 because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus, and now fans can decide which one was the best.
The Greatest Moments of the NHL season … So Far have been placed into a bracket of 64 entries, and fans will vote on one matchup per day, ultimately deciding the greatest moment up until this point.
Fans can vote on Twitter and Instagram each day from noon until 10 a.m. ET the next day. Each day the winner of that matchup will be revealed, and a new set of moments will go head-to-head.
Though fans will have the ultimate say, two NHL.com staff members will weigh in on each matchup to give his or her opinion on which one should advance to the next round.
In the matchup on Thursday, Pekka Rinne scoring a goalie goal for the Nashville Predators defeated the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl.
The matchup Friday pits a special reward for a young Minnesota Wild fan on Oct. 27, against Cale Makar setting a Colorado Avalanche record for most goals in a season by a rookie defenseman in a 5-3 win against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 18.
Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor
As someone who’s gone to sporting events for 35 years, I’ve never caught a foul ball at a baseball game let alone a puck that flew into the crowd. If I did, I’m not sure I would have shared with anyone. Certainly not as an 11-year-old. Which is why what Emily Wiltzius did that night in Minnesota was so impressive, getting two pucks and without a second thought giving each one to younger kids around her. It was especially cool to see the way the Wild, led by Jason Zucker, rewarded her for her kindness. As a parent, it also serves as a wonderful teaching moment that if you do good things, people are watching and you can be rewarded.
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
It’s not just that Makar set the Avalanche record for most goals in a season by a rookie defenseman. It’s that he reached 11 goals in 40 games, less than half a season’s worth (the previous record holder, John-Michael Liles, needed 79 games in 2003-04). It’s that he did it in a 5-3 win against the St. Louis Blues, the defending Stanley Cup champions and leaders in the Western Conference at the time. And it’s that he showed the awareness, poise and skill that has made him a leading contender for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the League’s top rookie. He noticed the defenders were tired, took advantage of the opportunity to find open ice, and scored on a wrist shot through a screen.
Report: Trump hopes to have fans back at sports games by end of summer – Sportsnet.ca
U.S. President Donald Trump told major-league sports commissioners on a call Saturday afternoon that he hoped to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.
Trump reportedly also said he believes the NFL season “should start on time in September.”
The call included 13 league commissioners, among them the NHL’s Gary Bettman, NBA’s Adam Silver, MLB’s Rob Manfred and NFL’s Roger Goodell.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere tweeted a statement following the completion of Trump’s call.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters later Saturday that he doesn’t anticipate sports being played with fans in the stands by September in his state, contrary to Trump’s reported comments.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the plan for the call was “to discuss charitable contributions and how the leagues would help those dealing with coronavirus.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought most of the sports world to a halt for the last three weeks, as only White’s UFC and MacMahon’s WWE are the only organizations still hosting events.
Kobe, Duncan, Garnett headline 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class – TSN
Kobe Bryant was already immortal. Now he’s officially a Hall of Famer as well.
And he’s got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class.
Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year’s class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
They all got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.
They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.
“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honour him,” Colangelo said. “It was a special thing done through that committee.”
Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said — as if there was going to be any doubt — that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.
Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.
“This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said.
Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medallist . Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn’t understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.
Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two others as a player and had Baylor in position to vie for another championship this season had the global coronavirus pandemic not forced the shutdown of virtually every sport around the globe. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.
The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for an October ceremony as well.
For this year, largely because of the star power of this class, the Hall chose to enact a one-year suspension of direct elections from the Veteran’s, Women’s Veteran’s, Early African-American Pioneers and Contributors categories.
With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the top NBA trio to ever enter simultaneously, the Hall wanted to make sure that no enshrinee would be overlooked.
“We didn’t need to water it down,” Colangelo said. “Next year is another year for many.”
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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