Canada making 'right call' to skip Tokyo Games: Trudeau

Ottawa (AFP) –


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday praised Canadian Olympic officials' decision not to send athletes to the Tokyo Summer Games due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying "everyone should follow their lead."

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and its Paralympic counterpart announced on Sunday they will not be sending athletes to the Games and urged that they be postponed.

Trudeau at his daily coronavirus briefing from his residence in Ottawa -- where he and his family are entering a second week of self-isolation after his wife Sophie was diagnosed with the virus -- called it a "tough decision."

"I know this is heartbreaking for so many people -- athletes, coaches, staff, and fans -- but this was absolutely the right call," Trudeau said. "And everyone should follow their lead."

Trudeau noted that he spoke to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier about the move.

Abe told parliament Japan was committed to a "complete" Games, but acknowledged for the first time that a postponement "may become inevitable."

"I know there are a lot of concerns about international events. Prime Minister Abe is very aware of these challenges," said Trudeau.

Canada was the first country to take the decision not to send athletes to Tokyo if the Games are held there as scheduled July 24-August 9.

Australia immediately followed suit.

"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 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic authorities said Sunday.