In breaking news, USA today reports that the 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed by one year because of coronavirus. The news comes just shortly after the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and American Canoe Association (ACA) decided to postpone the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – CanoeSlalom scheduled for May 2-3 and May 8-9 at the RIVERSPORT Rapids in Oklahoma City.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,”International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA Today. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on 24 July, that much I know.”
The move came after the chairman of the British Olympic Association said Great Britain would be unlikely to send a team to Tokyo. Australia and Canada have already said they will not compete in Japan.
Pound added that a decision will be announced soon about the IOC’s decision of the future of the 2020 Games. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense,” he told USA Today.
What this mans for paddlers — slalom and sprint — is that years of training and traveling for a chance to compete on the world’s biggest stage are being put on hold, for the time being. And who knows who might peak when at the postponed Games.
“As much as everyone knows that this is the right choice to make, it is also a difficult one,” says two-time Olympian and three-time World Cup Champion Scott Shipley, owner of whitewater park company S20 Design. “Athletes who have literally put their lives on hold for four years to pursue this dream are going to have to wait another year.
“It doesn’t seem fair in the midst of all of this pain and suffering to also be sad about this, but it is sad,” he adds. “For some of our greatest champions this was their life and now it, too, is on hold with an uncertain future.
“I think the IOC was wise to take so many factors into account. Our finest athletes were putting themselves at risk even in their day-to-day training. Never mind the risks of gathering together with thousands of other competitors. I think we are all praying for so many things now, I will also pray for those future champions who would never quit who are now being forced to put their dreams on hold for 12 more months.”
The ICF realizes these, and other, concerns.
“These are very difficult and certainly unprecedented times for the entire world, of which canoeing is just one small part of it,” says International Canoe Federation ICF President Jose Perurena. “Of course, no one wants to see the Olympics postponed. But it would be irresponsible of us, as canoeing’s world governing body, not to put in place plans to deal with all possible scenarios.
“We want to re-assure all our athletes, coaches, officials, hosts and volunteers that our contingency plans will center around their needs, and what is best for our sport overall. We will consult widely, and keep everyone informed as soon as we have new information to share.
“The ICF is in constant communication with the IOC, and will obviously be guided by any decisions it takes. We are also keeping the IOC informed about the situation confronting our athletes, including the lack of competition, the inability to train, and the changing circumstances surrounding the Olympic qualification process.”
The ICF is also working to determine the fairest qualification program for the Olympic and Paralympic quota positions still not allocated. The ACA, meanwhile, is working with the USOPC and the RIVERSPORT Foundation to explore all options to stage the U.S. Team Trials event in Oklahoma City at a later date.
“While we are obviously disappointed by the turn of events related to the coronavirus, we absolutely agree this is the right decision in the interests of athlete safety and public health,” says Mike Knopp, executive director of RIVERSPORT Foundation. “We will standby ready to support the Olympic movement and the dedicated paddlers chasing their Olympic dreams when we are past this pandemic and look forward to hosting a fabulous and inspiring Trials event.”
Read USA today here