Coronavirus: Here's what happened in the sports world on Sunday

Stay up to date on the latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe.

IOC sets 1-month deadline for decision on postponement of Tokyo 2020

(Illustration by Steve Tzemis/CBC)

The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:

Canadian athletes will not compete at Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to risks of COVID-19

The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee say they will not send athletes to compete in Tokyo if the Games go ahead as scheduled, set to begin on July 24th.

Backed by the Athletes' Commissions, National Sports Organizations and the Government of Canada, the COC and CPC say they have "made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020."

The statement was sent out late Sunday night.

"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," the statement said.

The two Committees say this decision is not solely about athlete health, but that it is about public health as well.

July Olympics 'neither feasible nor desirable,' says World Athletics president

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe says the time has come to select a new date and postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

CBC News obtained through a source a letter written by Coe directly to IOC President Thomas Bach on Sunday.

The two-page letter highlights a number of concerns regarding going ahead with the Olympics as planned in July.

"The unanimous view across all our areas is that an Olympic Games in July this year is neither feasible nor desirable," Coe wrote to Bach.

Japan's Abe flags potential to postpone Olympics

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe say a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics would be unavoidable if the games cannot be held in a complete way because of the novel coronavirus.

He was commenting on the International Olympic Committee plan to examine the situation over the next few weeks and make a decision, which could include a postponement.

Abe, speaking at a parliamentary session, ruled out the possibility of a cancellation.

Whether Tokyo can hold the Olympics as planned from July 24 has been a major international concern as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread globally.

IOC sets 1-month deadline for decision on Tokyo 2020

The International Olympic Committee has given itself a month to consider postponing the 2020 Olympics after an emergency meeting on Sunday.

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."

Furthermore, the IOC indicated in the press release that it will "step up" its contemplation of different scenarios surrounding the Games.

IOC in the spotlight

The International Olympic Committee faced mounting opposition on Sunday to the current schedule for the Tokyo 2020 Games as athletes, teams and federations called for a delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

IOC President Thomas Bach, who has insisted the Games will go ahead as planned, said any decision to change an Olympic Games was not a simple matter like rescheduling a soccer match and would need careful planning and information.

"The Olympic Games cannot be moved like a football game next Saturday," he told Germany's SWR broadcaster. "It is a complex undertaking and you can only act responsibly when you have a clear decision-making foundation."

He also ruled out canceling the July 24-Aug. 9 Games.

"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."

Athlete rights group calls IOC's 4-week deadline 'further neglect'

A worldwide group representing Olympic hopefuls is calling on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

Global Athlete director general Rob Koehler told CBC News that the International Olympic Committee's decision to take upwards of four additional weeks to decide whether to postpone or scale down the Games is a sign of "further neglect."

In an email sent on Sunday Koehe wrote, "As the world continues to fight a global pandemic, the IOC has told athletes of the world they need four weeks to make a decision on whether or not they postpone the Games. Such a response is unacceptable, irresponsible and, once again, ignores athletes' rights

"Over the next four weeks the world is going to increasingly shut down. The COVID-19 virus will sadly take more lives, and without a clear answer athletes are being indirectly asked to train. If anyone knows how competitive athletes work, they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. We understand it's a difficult decision but The IOC has a duty of care toward athletes which they have not exercised. A clear message should have been sent to all athletes to stop training and observe government calls to self-isolate. We should never place sport ahead of public health."

Pressure mounting for postponement

A worldwide group representing Olympic hopefuls is calling on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

"As the world unites to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus, the IOC ... must do the same," Global Athlete said in a news release Sunday.

This show of solidarity among Olympic hopefuls adds to the dozens of individual athletes who have come out against the IOC's current stance, which is to start the games as scheduled on July 24.

The IOC is in consultation with the World Health Organization and has stuck to the position that it's too early for drastic decisions.

"It's bizarre the IOC hasn't shown any real leadership," said Caradh O'Donovan, a Global Athlete founder from Ireland whose karate training has been put on hold due to restrictions in her country. "They're acting as though it's business as usual and it just seems very strange."

O'Donovan said the unevenness around the globe regarding training, doping control and qualifying standards are among her key concerns — thoughts echoed by a number of athletes on social media and in interviews with The Associated Press over the past few days.

"Athletes want to be part of a solution to ensure the Games are a success," the Global Athlete statement said. "But under the current global restrictions that are limiting public gatherings as well as closing training facilities and borders, athletes do not have the ability to appropriately prepare for these Games, and their health and safety must come first."

On Saturday, the organization that represents all of Canada's national team athletes questioned the IOC's level of empathy, as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carl Lewis calls for Olympics to be moved to 2022

nine-time Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis called for the 2020 athletics season to be scrapped and July's Tokyo Olympics to be postponed until 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands.

"Let's wipe the season clean, focus on the [2021] worlds and get it together," America's most decorated track and field athlete told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"It's going to hurt a lot, but wipe it clean."

With the uncertainty now of whether there will be a Games in 2020 and the tightening of people's movement by governments to try to control the virus, "we are in the twilight zone," Lewis said.

Some of the best track & field athletes in Canada gather together with CBC Sports' Anson Henry to discuss the effect the coronavirus is having on their present and future - and the effect it may have on their Olympic dreams. 13:17

"I don't think the Olympics are going to happen, but, we have to prepare as we are going."

AFL season suspended

Australian Football League CEO Gillon McLachlan announced the suspension of the season until at least May 31. Some regions in Australia have enacted travel restrictions that would have made play impossible.

"To say this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement. It is unprecedented in its impact," McLachlan said. "It is unprecedented in the impact it is having on our game and the wider community, and as a community and as a code, we all need to take the unprecedented and required actions to get through this together.

"I know that everyone involved in our game and our millions of supporters will be impacted by this decision and that many people will suffer significant hardship as are people right across the community but I also know that we all have a responsibility to the community and each other. And we have the will to work collectively to overcome this crisis."

All first round games were played in spectator-less stadiums.

Jays' Shapiro says players, staff have not needed testing

Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro says none of the team's players or staff have had symptoms that warranted being tested for COVID-19.

Shapiro spoke to media Sunday afternoon on a conference call from his Toronto home, four days after leaving the Blue Jays' spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla., with other members of the team's staff.

"The testing situation is one where we kind of just mirror the broader society," Shapiro said. "I think we all wish there could be broader access to testing, for the Blue Jays and for everyone. Right now we're working through protocol.

"We have not had anyone reach a point on the player personnel or staff side where their symptoms warranted testing. So at this moment, no Blue Jay staff or player, major or minor league, have been tested."

Shapiro said most of Toronto's major league players had made their way back to their respective homes by March 15.

While the Blue Jays' spring facility essentially closed last week, a trio of pitchers — Hyun-jin Ryu of South Korea, Shun Yamaguchi of Japan and Rafael Dolis of the Dominican Republic — are still there.

"From a front-office perspective we became increasingly less comfortable asking staff to support and be in an environment that was becoming clearer it was not safe," Shapiro said of the decision to shut down the facility, noting that too many people were congregating in close spaces.

"We do however remain open to just three players who don't have any place else as to go for a variety of reasons. Obviously there are immigration laws and other circumstances," he said.

"[In] Ryu's situation, his wife in seven months pregnant as well, so we're attempting to support those players and we're keeping the facility open for them to train and workout without any staff support other than just opening the facility and making sure they have access."

ISA postpones World Surfing Games 

In light of the continuing global COVID-19 pandemic, and in the interest of the safety of athletes, fans, staff, officials and the local community, the International Surfing Association has decided in agreement with the government of El Salvador to postpone the Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) to June 6 - 14.

These new provisional dates are in agreement with the World Surf League (WSL) and align with their decision on March 16 to suspend their season until the end of May.

The ISA has noted the decision of the IOC Executive Board to step up scenario-planning for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.  The ISA will continue to work in close consultation with the IOC in the ensuing days and weeks concerning potential changes to the qualification process, and any eventual contingency plans, in particular related to the role of the WSG in Olympic qualification.

The ISA president said, "We fully understand and sympathize with the concerns of the surfers from around the world, as we all deal and help with the global efforts to contain this virus. These are very difficult, uncertain times for everyone, which is why we must be more united than ever in our love for the ocean and belief in the future. We are committed to taking a responsible approach, and to getting back into the water as soon as safely possible."

With files from The Associated Press, Field Level Media and CBC Sports


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