The International Olympic Committee has given itself a month to consider postponing the 2020 Olympics after an emergency meeting on Sunday, CBC Sports has confirmed.
However, the IOC stated in a press release that “cancellation is not on the agenda” with respect to the upcoming Games.
The announcement comes in the wake of a growing chorus of voices from international sport organizations and high-profile athletes calling for the postponement of Tokyo 2020.
In a separate letter sent to Olympic athletes, IOC president Thomas Bach offered assurance that “we are working very hard, and we are confident that we will have finalized these discussions within the next four weeks.”
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Furthermore, the IOC indicated in the press release that it will “step up” its contemplation of different scenarios surrounding the Games.
“These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games,” the statement reads.
“This step will allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan. It will serve as the basis for the best decision in the interest of the athletes and everyone else involved.”
Bach reaches out to concerned athletes
In light of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, Bach indicated the IOC wants to be part of the solution, but with the goal of staging the Games still at top of mind.
“As successful athletes, you know that we should never give up, even if the chance to succeed appears to be very small,” Bach said.
“Our commitment to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is based on this experience. It is our experience as athletes that you must always be ready to adapt to new situations. For this reason we have, as indicated before, been thinking in different scenarios and are adapting them almost day by day.”
Bach was also clear that it is still too early to make a decision.
“Our basis of information today is that a final decision about the date of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now would still be premature,” he said.
WATCH | How is COVID-19 affecting Tokyo 2020?
Countries around the world have closed borders and enforced strict lockdowns, trying to stop the pandemic. COVID-19 has killed around 13,000 people since surfacing in China months ago.
Pressure to delay Tokyo 2020 mounted throughout the week.
On Tuesday, Canadian hockey great Hayley Wickenheiser, a member of the IOC’s Athletes Commission and a six-time Olympian, called out the IOC, saying in a statement posted on Twitter that the current crisis is bigger than any Olympics.
“I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead with such conviction is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity. We don’t know what’s happening in the next 24 hours, let alone the next three months,” Wickenheiser said.
After Wickenheiser spoke out, the dominos started to fall.
Increasing calls for postponement
In the days that followed, the IOC drew heavy criticism for not postponing the Games. USA Swimming called for a 12-month postponement — a move supported by Swimming Canada.
“Telling athletes to prepare for an Olympic Games during a global pandemic raises serious issues,” Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi said in a statement.
“We hold the opinions of our brothers and sisters at USA Swimming in high regard and share many of the same concerns around health and safety. That includes the safety and well-being of our athletes — both physically and mentally — and the safety of the community at large. Each day that goes by without a decision creates more stress and anxiety for our athletes, who are worried, not only about themselves, but about their communities.”
And then 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.
Later on Saturday, AthletesCAN — the organization that represents all of Canada’s national team athletes — questioned 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. The email raised doubts over moving forward with the Olympics, 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.
With only 57 per cent of Olympics spots currently decided, and qualifying events continuing to be cancelled, Canadian athletes remain in limbo. Anxiety over the unknown was reaching a fever-pitch. The internal letter suggested athletes are torn.
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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.”
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 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.”
Throughout all of this, Bach has been adamant that cancelling the Olympics is not an option.
“A cancellation of the Games would be the least fair solution. A cancellation would destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes of 206 Olympic committees,” Bach told Germany’s SWR broadcaster.
Four more members of the Ottawa Senators test positive for COVID-19 – Ottawa Sun
The Ottawa Senators have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus after the club confirmed Wednesday afternoon four more people who made the trip to California have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Senators received the positive test results for the three players and one staff member after eight people were tested by local health authorities because they were having symptoms of the virus when they arrived back home in Ottawa. That brings the total to seven people aboard the club’s Air Canada Jetz charter that returned from California on March 12 that have tested positive for the virus.
Two unnamed players had already been confirmed with having the virus while broadcaster Gord Wilson said publicly Friday night he also had received conformation of a positive test. The club indicated the five players and staff member have all recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic that has spread worldwide.
The charter jet was on the runway for a couple of hours at LAX while the Senators were waiting for the final decision from the NHL’s board of governors that the schedule would be postponed while the players also had two days off in Anaheim before taking on the Ducks.
The club haven’t named the players or staff member diagnosed because of privacy laws in Canada and it’s up to the players or staff member to decide if they want to go public.
“Members of the team and staff self-isolated on Friday, March 13, and are all doing well. All test results have now been received, and all those who tested positive have recovered,” the club said in a statement released Wednesday.
“The Ottawa Senators’ medical team continues to monitor players and staff and are following all appropriate and professional guidelines to help ensure the health and safety of our employees and the greater community.”
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told this newspaper in an email Wednesday there aren’t plans to test the whole Senators’ team because of the latest confirmation of positive tests.
“Everyone who had symptoms was tested,” Daly said.”There really is no reason to test anyone else. No one is symptomatic and no one is sick and they all have been in self-quarantine for three weeks.”
Testing was done with local public health officials and nobody was sent for a test unless they were displaying symptoms. Wilson told this newspaper Friday night he wasn’t feeling well and when he checked the symptoms online he felt that he should be tested.
“I went and got tested because I was feeling so run down from California and it was much a fear for (his wife Patricia Boal) going into work as anything,” Wilson said Friday after Boal made the diagnosis public on CTV Ottawa during the supper hour news broadcast. “I was starting to feel pretty low mid-week and that’s when they told Trish that they would do the news from our back yard.
“We’re all internet doctors. You read the symptoms and I’m checking them off as I’m reading along. OK, yeah, I’ve got a runny nose. Okay, yeah, I’ve got pressure on the chest. OK, yes, I’m out of breath. Have I had the chills? Yes, occasionally. Muscle aches? Yes, for sure.”
Wilson said Wednesday afternoon he’s doing much better and is self-isolating at home.
The Senators were the first team to confirm a positive test by an NHL player on March 17 and that came just after the club returned from a trip through California from March 6-to-12 that made stops in San Jose on March 7, Anaheim March 10 and Los Angeles March 11. The Senators were scheduled to play in Chicago on March 13 but returned to Ottawa on March 12 because the league went on pause.
Players were instructed by the league to self-quarantine for 14 days _ preferably in the city where they played _ in an email from deputy commissioner Bill Daly on March 13. Three days later, the league told players they were free to return to their homes across the world but should remain in self-isolation. That period was extended to April 15 in an email to league GM’s Tuesday.
The Senators confirmed they had second case of the coronavirus on March 21 and the Colorado Avalanche, who have had two cases of COVID-19, are the only other team that has been affected by the outbreak.
The Avalanche and Senators were both making their way through California in early-March when it was considered a hotpsot for the coronavirus and a state of emergency had been declared in the area at the time. The Senators faced the Sharks on Saturday night and the Avalanche were in town Sunday before San Jose left on a lengthy road trip.
The Sharks had been warned by the Santa Clara health commission not to allow fans in the stands but went ahead with games against the Senators and Avs anyway because it was a warning and not an order. Neither the Sharks, Ducks or Kings have had any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among their players or staff.
Agent says Alexander Barabanov won’t rush NHL decision – TSN
The NHL season may be paused indefinitely, but the Toronto Maple Leafs’ pursuit of KHL free agent Alexander Barabanov has continued to pick up steam.
Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas confirmed his club’s interest in signing the Russian winger during a media conference call on Tuesday.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported that the Leafs and Arizona Coyotes were front-runners for Barabanov’s services, and that both teams had been after him for more than two years.
“He’s going through a process of interviewing teams, and there’s no timeline [on that],” Barabanov’s agent, Dan Milstein, told TSN on Wednesday. “But in another week or less depending [on how things progress], he is going to decide whether to stay in the KHL or come over to North America. There are more than a couple clubs with significant interest.”
Until now though, the 25-year-old had been content growing his game in the KHL. Never drafted by an NHL team, Barabanov has spent the entirety of his seven-year professional career with St. Petersburg SKA.
The 2018-19 campaign was Barabanov’s best, when he produced 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists) in 58 games. His numbers took a dip in 2019-20 (11 goals, nine assists in 43 games), but that hasn’t affected the Leafs’ level of interest or changed what attracted them to Barabanov in the first place.
“He’s strong. He’s not tall (at 5-foot-10), but he’s a very strong winger,” Dubas said on Tuesday. “Tremendous playmaking ability, great skill level in tight. But one of the other things we like most about him is his ability to make plays under pressure and his ability to win pucks, protect pucks when people come after him and use his strength to be able to do that. So, he’s a playmaking winger who also has the ability to finish at the net and we’ll continue to pursue him as best we can.”
TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button said that in Barabanov, the Leafs would have a player who ”works, has desire, and competes pretty well.” Button sees him in the same vein as former Maple Leafs’ forward Dmytro Timashov, who was a rotating healthy scratch on the team’s fourth line for 39 games this season before being placed on waivers and subsequently claimed by Detroit.
“I don’t think there’s downside to signing free agents like this,” Button said. “Barabanov’s a bottom-of-the-forward-group type player, so nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Although the global COVID-19 pandemic is preventing Leafs’ personnel from travelling overseas, Dubas said the work put in by senior director of player evaluation Jim Paliafito has already built a solid foundation between the team and players they’re interested in.
That makes it easier to keep expanding those relationships electronically, and the Leafs track record of luring other KHL and European free agents, like Nikita Zaitsev, Calle Rosen and Ilya Mikheyev, boosts their stock as well.
“There are players that we’re interested in and we’re competing with many other teams to try to gain recruitment,” Dubas said. “And our hope is that the ability of the players that have come over from Europe since Jim been with us to quickly transition to pro hockey in North America will be a big help for us.”
It’s especially imperative now that Toronto be creative in making acquisitions. The Leafs are already pressed right up against the salary cap, and with uncertainty surrounding whether the cap will increase at all next season following the league’s pause, filling out the bottom of the roster with players on manageable entry-level deals is all the more important.
“[Paliafito]’s got a great read early on, on who the players are that we’re probably going to look after,” Dubas said. “He does a great job communicating back to the organization and to our player personnel department to take a look at players, whether it’s live or breaking down their video. And then he’s able to begin having conversations with them and their agents during the year to kind of get a handle on it.”
Should Barabanov want any insight on the challenges of jumping into North American hockey, he’s got plenty of sounding boards available to help.
Two of Barabanov’s former teammates with SKA – Igor Ozhiganov and Miro Aaltonen – previously spent one season each in the Leafs’ organization, although Aaltonen only suited up for the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.
Barabanov has also represented the Russian national team alongside multiple NHLers, including Alexander Ovechkin, winning Olympic gold with the Olympic Athletes from Russia in 2018 and earning a series of bronze medals (at the 2014 World Juniors, and 2017 and 2019 World Championships).
Those connections could play a key role in pushing Barabanov towards his next destination; one piece of a methodical, long-term process he’s undertaken to make the best choice possible. And he won’t be rushed.
“He’s talking to teams, and him and his wife are considering the interest,” Milstein said. “I’m going to continue working with him and looking at different aspects of his options. He could decide at any time. But this isn’t something that all of a sudden came about. He’s been watching a lot of the NHL games and has a lot of friends in the NHL, he played on a line with Ovechkin [with the national team], played with a lot of NHLers in the past. It’s a variety of different things influencing him.”
Wimbledon cancelled due to public concerns over coronavirus pandemic – CBC.ca
Wimbledon was cancelled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament won’t be played.
After an emergency meeting, the All England Club announced that the event it refers to simply as “The Championships” is being scrapped for 2020.
Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the club’s grass courts on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.
Instead, the next edition of the tournament will be June 28 to July 11, 2021.
Also Wednesday, the ATP and WTA announced that the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours would be suspended until at least July 13. They already had been on hold through June 7.
Wimbledon first was held in 1877 and has been contested every year since, with the exception of two stretches: from 1915-18 because of World War I, and from 1940-45 because of World War II.
“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars,” club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.
“But following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”
U.S. Open still a go
Wimbledon joins the growing list of sports events called off completely in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
That includes the Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back by 12 months, and the NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.
Wimbledon is the first major tennis championship completely wiped out this year because of the coronavirus. The start of the French Open was postponed from late May to late September.
As of now, the U.S. Open is still scheduled to be played in New York from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.
Wednesday’s decision means Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep will not get a chance to defend their Wimbledon titles from 2019.
The cancellation also takes away what might have been one of Roger Federer’s best chances to try to add to his 20 Grand Slam titles, including a record eight at Wimbledon, where he lost a fifth-set tiebreaker to Djokovic in the last final after holding a pair of championship points. Federer, who turns 39 in August, is currently recovering from knee surgery and planned to return in time for the grass-court circuit.
In a statement last week, the All England Club said that postponing the two-week event would not come “without significant risk and difficulty” because of the grass surface. The club also said then that it already had ruled out “playing behind closed doors” without spectators.
French Open moved to September
The tennis schedule already had been affected by the COVID-19 illness that has spread around the world, with about 20 tournaments postponed or cancelled.
The French Tennis Federation announced March 17 that its Grand Slam tournament was being moved to September.
Hundreds of thousands of people have caught COVID-19, and thousands have died. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough, but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.
According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Regular day-to-day life has come to a halt in many ways in many parts of the world in recent weeks, and sports has reflected that.
The NBA, NHL and MLB are on hold indefinitely; the Kentucky Derby, Masters and Indianapolis 500 were pushed back several months until September; the European soccer championship — scheduled to end in London on the same day as the Wimbledon men’s final — was postponed from 2020 to 2021.
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