The Week That Was: Canada & Australia Abandon Tokyo 2020 In July, Forcing IOC Hand

Canada will not be sending a team to the 2020 Olympic Games citing safety concerns over the coronavirus. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

We are in un-chartered waters as the coronavirus pandemic is creating a lot of uncertainties with the Olympic Games this summer. As of right now, the Games are still on for a July 24 start date in 124 days. But many athletes are using their voice to call for a postponement to 2021 and some country’s federations have even gone as far to say they will not send any athletes to the Games this year because of safety concerns.

Australia’s Prime Minister has initiated a travel ban for citizens that will last six months, effectively ending Australia’s chances at competing at the Olympic Games if they will stay on target for July.

There was a small number of positive news as Japan’s Rikako Ikee was back in the water for the first time in 406 days after a battle with leukemia.

There was so much news going on last week that we have extended to six stories this week.

Read below the six biggest stories in the Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #6: Swimming World Launches New Site Layout


By Swimming World Editorial Team

Swimming World wants you to feel at home, so we’ve made a little space, moved some furniture and hope you like what you see. It’s the first phase of a new dawn and longer-term development that aims to help you find and always know where to look for the articles and features and themes you’re most interested in.

We’ve set some goals and a process is underway. One aim is to live up to the second word in the title – World, and we trust you’ve noticed the work already underway.

Swimming and aquatics sport in general are home to a vast ocean of people, speeds, talents, paces, interests, skills, roles and topics within topics.

There’s a diverse readership around the world, too, complete with unique reasons to visit Swimming World and a variety of ways of accessing a vast library of content, from news and views to analysis, in-depth features, guidance and inspiration, and the context of a rich history in partnership with the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

We have quantity in abundance but our aim is to bring you quality, insight, fine journalism, truth without fear or favour and insightful reflection of a world of water brimming with skills and thrills, personalities, leaders, pioneers, pathfinders, the fearless and the unsung heroes who provide the foundations and cornerstones of a pantheon second to none in world sport.

The Week That Was #5: ISL Introduces Toronto Titans


The ISL officially announced the new name of the Toronto-based ISL team set to debut in the second season. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross

The International Swimming League announced two new franchises would be joining the league in the 2020-21 season with teams based in Toronto and Tokyo. On Tuesday, the official team name for the Toronto squad was finalized, and the Toronto Titans will be one of ten teams to compete for the ISL title next season.

“These are extraordinary times in so many ways. I’m glad to be a part of something that is so positive and progressive. I’m excited to be leading a new team, in a new league, into a new era,” said Toronto Titans’ General Manager, Robert Kent.

“We’re going to have a team that will be a real contender. We look forward to a lot of success and a lot of fun,” Kent added.

Kylie MasseKayla Sanchez, Michael Chadwick, Blake Pieroni and Anton McKee have been named to the team thus far.

#4: Rikako Ikee is Back in the Pool!


Rikako Ikee is back in the water after 406 days away following a battle with leukemia – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross

19-year-old Rikako Ikee of Japan posted to Instagram on Tuesday that she was back in the pool for the first time in 406 days after a year-long battle with leukemia. She was discharged from the hospital in December and set a long-term goal of competing at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

She posted two photos of herself in the pool to Instagram. When roughly translated from Japanese to English, she wrote:

“Hospital teacher’s permission finally came out and was able to enter the pool! It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the pool fo the first time in 406 days! I’m so happy that I can’t describe my words. I feel good and I’m happy. In Japan, new viruses are trending around the world, but I hope that the infection prevention and measures will be solid, and it will converge in 1 days.”

The Week That Was #3: Cameron van der Burgh Comes Forward With Coronavirus Diagnosis


Photo Courtesy: Anesh Debiky/Swimming South Africa

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Cameron van der Burgh, the 2012 Olympic 100m breaststroke champion and former World champion and record holder from South Africa, has been battling coronavirus COVID-19 infection for the past fortnight and has taken to social media to explain how tough it’s been even for a fit, young man whose athletic prime was just yesterday.

Cameron’s thread on Twitter explains clearly why the International Olympic Committee should not consider attempting to hold the Olympic Games this year. The swimmer, who still keeps fit on a regular basis, is still struggling with sever fatigue two weeks after being infected. Even though fever and the worst is over, his recovery and rehabilitation will take much longer, he indicates.

His conclusion:

“Please, look after yourself everyone! Health comes first – COVID-19 is no joke!”

#2: Australia Institutes Travel Ban For Citizens


Mitch Larkin and Matthew Wilson will not be allowed to leave Australia for six months in wake of the coronavirus. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ruled out any exceptions for Olympic athletes today as he put in place a nationwide travel ban that keep Australian citizens in and all others out for what could be “restrictions to last six months” in an effort to combat the coronavirus (COVID-10) pandemic.

Addressing the nation with words that effectively make the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games a non-starter, he said: “This is not a quick fix…this is not something that we will address in two weeks, or a month…and for things to go back to normal…we have to be prepared for these restrictions to last for six months… This is a critical time…an absolutely critical time for our country…”

Swimming Australia’s High Performance programs were shut down immediately and for the foreseeable future following one of the most dramatic days in Olympic sports with the Australian Olympic Committee confirming it will not be safe to send its team to the Tokyo 2020 Games in July.

A dramatic decision which while it had been expected, was also warranted and welcomed but is now a stark reality that the last four years will be lost – extended for another year.

The Week That Was #1: Canada Will Not Send Athletes to 2020 Olympics


Team Canada will turn their backs on the Olympics unless a postponement is called for 2021. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Matthew De George

The Canadian Olympic Committee Sunday night escalated the pressure on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, releasing a statement that it has “made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020.”

That statement by the COC and Canadian Paralympic Committee was backed by the nation’s Athlete’s Commission and national sport organizations as well as the government in light of the coronavirus global pandemic.

From the statement:

“The COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and 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.”

Swimming Canada was quick to support USA Swimming’s push for a postponement of the Games last week, but this represents a broader and more comprehensive push from a nation that sent the ninth-largest delegation to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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