Canada and Australia become the first two countries to pull out the Tokyo Olympics 2020 due to the coronavirus threat. The massive backlash from the sporting federation means that the top tennis stars from the two countries will not participate in the prestigious event. However, can the players choose to compete as independent Olympians?
The Canadian Olympic Committee and Australian Olympic Committee announced that their players would not participate in the Olympics if they were held as planned this year.
The AOC believes that the athletes need to prioritise their own health and of those around them. Furthermore, the athletes should be able to return to the families.
“We’ve had to make a call now because of the situation here in Australia and other parts of the world,” AOC CEO Matt Carroll told reporters in Sydney on Monday. “But the IOC is still working through their final decision-making.”
The decision from AOC and COC will give their athletes certainty. The bombshell announcements have mounted further pressure on the IOC to push the Games back to 2021.
“It has to be a summer Games, it’s an appropriate amount of time. However, that’s a decision for the International Olympic Committee,” AOC added.
The decision to withdraw from the Olympics 2020 means top tennis players from Australia and Canada cannot compete at Games. The list of players includes Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur, Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov, Felix-Auger Aliassime, Bianca Andreescu and Ashleigh Barty.
According to the rules, athletes can compete as Independent Olympians at the Olympic Games for various reasons. However, the Australian players cannot take part in the largest sporting event if the Games kick-off in July.
The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already declared Australian Olympians will not be allowed to travel to Tokyo in July under the government’s current restrictions. While It is still unclear if the Canadian players can compete as independent Olympians.
Despite the uncertainty due to the coronavirus outspread, the IOC has no intentions in cancelling the event. Although, with continuous pressure from various national federations, IOC is considering to postpone the event.