Canada is the first country to announce a pull out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Team Canada tweeted about their decision on Sunday (March 22), citing concerns over the coronavirus and adding, quote “postpone today, conquer tomorrow.”
Opposition to letting the Games go ahead in July spiked sharply over the weekend.
Several big names called for a delay, including U.S. Track and Field and UK Athletics, citing athletes’ inability to prepare due to virus-related restrictions, and risks to their overall safety.
Several athletes have already insisted they will not compete in a July Olympics.
And on Monday (March 23) Australia’s Olympic committee said they would be pulling out of the 2020 Games.
It’s heaping pressure on host country Japan and the International Olympics Committee.
On Sunday the IOC held an emergency meeting and said it would start talks about potentially pushing back the July 24 start date, or even postponing the Games by a year.
However, it insisted that cancelling them entirely was still not an option.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe echoed these sentiments in a Japanese parliament meeting on Monday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “The decision of IOC of considering possible postponement is in line with what I just said, to hold the event in a complete form. If that becomes difficult, we will think of the athletes first and foremost, we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games.”
The statements are a sharp departure from both the IOC and Tokyo who previously insisted the Games would go on as scheduled.
The Olympics have never been postponed or cancelled during peacetime.
However, the announcement was met with relief from major stakeholders like World Athletics, and several national Olympic committees.
The IOC says a decision on the Games will be made within four weeks.