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Tokyo Olympics: Canadians pull out, will other nations follow? 

  • The Tokyo Olympics is in major scheduling jeopardy due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
  • What could be the repercussions of Canada officially pulling out from the games?
Karan Vinod
Modified 23 Mar 2020, 18:44 IST
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Flame arrives in Japan
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Flame arrives in Japan

The ripple effect of the global epidemic spread by the coronavirus continues to take its toll on the sporting world. All major sporting events across the world have been postponed indefinitely to curb the virus from spreading. Governments have ordered a lockdown of cities and citizens as the fight against Covid-19 continues.

The global pandemic has infected hundreds of thousands of individuals and Japan is no exception. Major events like the NBA, Premier League, and the IPL have been suspended with no guarantee of when the action will resume.

One of the major sporting events scheduled to happen in 2020 is the Olympics. No decision has been taken on whether the games will go ahead or not by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). A number of countries like Brazil and Norway have pressed for postponement of the Olympics. The IOC has said that they have considered postponing but said canceling the event would not help anybody.

This will be the second time Tokyo has hosted the Olympics
This will be the second time Tokyo has hosted the Olympics

Canada has officially stated that they will pull out their athletes from the games if the Olympics are not postponed. Australia is also threatening to do the same. Several countries have requested to reschedule the summer games for another time. With the games scheduled to begin on 24 July, and no cure yet available, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee have laid down the gauntlet.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the IOC's statement by saying that there is every chance the Olympics could be postponed if there is an issue in holding the games in its 'complete form'. With controlling the pandemic becoming more challenging by the day, the governments of several nations are unwilling to send their athletes to Tokyo.

Consequences of Canada pulling out

The bold move by the Canadians to pull out of the Olympics is pretty much forcing the hand of the IOC. The pressure will only intensify from here as several high profile athletes and nations have called for postponement. The total lockdown in a lot of countries has hampered the training and preparations of these athletes ahead of the games.

The IOC is pretty much in a no-win situation if they do go ahead with the Olympics as then the narrative will be about the boycotts and pull-outs.


The Government of Japan will have the final say in conducting the events and it will not be an easy decision. Revenues running into billions are at stake - which includes the tremendous influx of cash already paid by the broadcasters and sponsors for exclusive rights.

Another issue with the coronavirus is the difficulty in conducting the anti-doping tests. Additionally, a massive percentage of the Olympic spots are still yet to be filled mainly because of the sheer amount of qualification events which have been cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Cancellation of Tokyo 2020 games would also have symbolic weight as the Olympics have only ever been cancelled thrice - due to the two World Wars ( in 1916, 1940, 1944). At the end of the day, this just might be the only option in front of the IOC, Japan, and the world at large.

Also Checkout: The full Olympics 2020 Schedule

Published 23 Mar 2020, 16:34 IST
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