Sports·THE BUZZER

Why the election could impact Canadian Olympians

As Canadians cast their votes, CBC Sports' daily newsletter looks at what some of the party leaders have said about the possibility of boycotting or pushing for the relocation of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Depending on who wins, the Beijing boycott talk might return

The possibility of boycotting or pushing for the relocation of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics has been raised by some of the leaders of Canadian political parties. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

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The election could affect Canada's participation in the next Olympics

It's election day in Canada and, judging by the latest opinion polls, the count might go into overtime. Among those who could be anxiously awaiting the results tonight are Canada's Winter Olympians. That's because, depending on which party wins and what type of government they form, talk of Canada boycotting the upcoming Beijing Games could heat back up.

Last February, as Beijing started its one-year countdown, three Canadian political party leaders called for the Games to be relocated. The Conservatives' Erin O'Toole, the NDP's Jagmeet Singh and the Green Party's Annamie Paul all pointed to the Chinese government's treatment of its Muslim minority population as a reason for taking the event away from China. O'Toole even floated the idea of a boycott, saying that if relocation was not possible (almost certainly the case now that the Olympics are only five months away) and if there was "no change in conduct" by China, then Canada "should examine whether our athletes compete."

Prime Minister (and Liberal Party leader) Justin Trudeau responded by saying more information was needed before labelling China's actions toward its Uyghur population a "genocide," as O'Toole had, and did not give any indication that his government would support an Olympic boycott or relocation. A few days later, the House of Commons, including most Liberal MPs who participated, voted in favour of a Conservative motion saying China's actions in its Xinjiang region meet the definition of genocide, and that the Canadian government should lobby the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Games. However, in June, the Senate voted against a similar motion.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee, as you'd expect, have voiced their opposition to a boycott. "There are myriad tools available to the government to deal with this diplomatically," COC CEO Shoemaker said. "We do not see the logic that… we should in effect punish 300 athletes and boycott the Beijing Games." Outspoken Canadian IOC member Dick Pound was more blunt. "The Canadian Olympic Committee is not an instrument of the Canadian government and the Canadian athletes are not employees of the government," he said. "It's counterintuitive that Olympic athletes should be the ones who pay the price for government dissatisfaction with Chinese conduct." Pound also called the idea of moving the Games to another country at such a late stage "silly."

Compared to its peak back in February, support for a boycott of the Beijing Games seems to have waned. But O'Toole raised the issue again last month after a Chinese court rejected an appeal by a Canadian whose 15-year prison term on drug smuggling charges was increased to a death sentence in January 2019. "I know how hard our athletes are training for Beijing," O'Toole said. "But we are approaching a point where it won't be safe for Canadians, including Olympic athletes, to travel to China."

At the moment, the chances of Canada boycotting the Beijing Olympics, or the Games being relocated, appear low. But those odds could change based on what happens in this election. Read more about the Beijing boycott debate in this piece by CBC News' Geoff Nixon.

WATCH | Canadian Olympic, Paralympic leaders against boycott:

Canadian Olympic, Paralympic leaders dismiss Beijing 2022 Olympics boycott

8 months ago
11:39
David Shoemaker, chief executive officer and secretary general of the Canadian Olympic Committee tells CBC News' Heather Hiscox that boycotts "do not work" and "it's important for us to be part of the conversation and be there" in China. 11:39

Quickly...

The Blue Jays open another big series tonight. With Toronto clinging to the second and final American League wild-card spot — 1 game behind Boston, 1½ ahead of the Yankees and 2 up on Oakland — and only 13 games left in the season, they're all big now. And this three-game set at Tampa Bay, which begins tonight at 7:10 p.m. ET, promises to be a tough one. The Rays, who are headed for their second consecutive division title, have the best record in the AL. The Jays have held their own against them, though, going 7-9 vs. Tampa Bay this year, and Cy Young front-runner Robbie Ray takes the mound tonight for Toronto. The Jays lost a key starting pitcher over the weekend when 2020 Cy Young Hyun-Jin Ryu was placed on the 10-day injured list with neck tightness following two rough outings in a row.

And in case you missed it...

A few more things from the weekend that you should know about:

Canadian canoeist Katie Vincent won her first solo world title. Last month in Tokyo, Vincent teamed with Laurence Vincent Lapointe to take doubles bronze in the Olympic debut of women's sprint canoe. The duo also won back-to-back doubles world titles together in 2017 and '18. Yesterday in Denmark, Vincent captured her first singles gold medal at the world championships, winning the women's C1 200 metres (the distance for the women's singles event at the Olympics). This is the second individual world-championship podium of Vincent's career. She won bronze in the C1 500m in 2018. Vincent Lapointe, who took silver in the -1 200m at the Tokyo Olympics and owns six world titles in that event, didn't compete this time. Read more about Vincent's gold-medal win and watch the race here

Canada's best hope for an Olympic figure skating medal started the season strong. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier won the ice dance event Saturday at the Autumn Classic International in Quebec. They were the only Canadians to reach the podium (or even place in the top five) at this year's world championships in Stockholm, where they took bronze. Canada's Vanessa James and Eric Radford took silver in the pairs event in Quebec, while Conrad Orzel won the all-Canadian men's competition. Read more about the top Canadian results and watch some of the key skates here

Kristie Elliott made Canadian football history. The Simon Fraser University placekicker became the first Canadian woman to play in, and to score in, an NCAA football game when she converted a pair of extra points in a loss to Oregon's Linfield University on Saturday. SFU, whose main campus is located in Burnaby, B.C., is the only Canadian school that plays in the NCAA. It competes in Division II. Elliott had never played football before earning a walk-on spot with the SFU team in 2019 when she showed a coach she could kick a 40-yard field goal. Read more about her here.

You're up to speed. Talk to you tomorrow.

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