Are athletes travelling to Tokyo considered non-essential travel?

The IOC insists the Games will go on, while Canada bans all non-essential travel

March 20th, 2020 by | Posted in The Scene | Tags: , , , ,

During a press conference today Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, was asked if Canadian athletes should be going to the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo. She reiterated that all Canadians should avoid non-essential travel, but where does the Olympic fall under that umbrella? It’s clear, for Tam, sport isn’t an essential. But the IOC feels differently.

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With no access to facilities, physical therapy, drug testing or teammates for training, athletes have been left in a less-than-ideal position. Most have found work-around ways to get training in, but they can’t find their way around a national travel ban.

According to the Globe and Mail, Japan has sunk between $40 and $60 billion dollars into the Games, and that in a recent polling of the Japanese public, two-thirds didn’t want the event to go ahead. That’s not a vote of confidence either.

IAAF World Track & Field Championships Beijing 2015. Photo: Claus Andersen

Despite growing concern among athletes, national sporting organizations and spectators, the IOC continues to insist the the Olympics will go on as planned. On Tuesday they released a statement that they’re considering adjustments to the qualification process, but discouraged speculation about cancellation or postponement.

As of last Thursday, most Canadian athletes were without a training facility. Olympic trials for various sports have been cancelled, including the Canadian swimming trials which we set to begin in two weeks’ time. On Thursday, the CCES (Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport) announced that it would be limiting drug testing in the coming weeks, due to COVID-19. While all athletes would love for the Games to go ahead, there doesn’t seem like a reasonable way in which they can happen on time, but the IOC refuses to talk about postponement. While they refuse to talk about postponement, the public is talking about cancellation.