The coronavirus pandemic prompted Australia to withdraw its athletes from the 2020 Olympics on Monday.
With its athletes unable to train or prepare properly due to social distancing and a clampdown on travel, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it could no longer assemble a team for the July 24-Aug. 9 Games in Tokyo.
The move came after Canada’s Olympic Committee said it would not send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics, currently scheduled for July.
“Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021,” the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said in a statement.
It said the Australian team “could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad”.
Australian hockey squad members disappointed
The Australia men’s national field hockey team are one of the nation’s most successful top-level sporting teams.
They are the only Australian team in any sport to receive medals at the last six Summer Olympic Games (1992–2012). They also won the Hockey World Cup in 1986, 2010 and 2014.
For Olympian and member of the Australia Men’s hockey team Blake Govers, this news has left him disappointed.
“It’s gut-wrenching,” Govers told an Australian daily. (Illawarra Mercury)
“The mood was pretty down when we heard the news. We were in the last stretch preparing for the Olympics.”
Disappointed but also relieved
“We’ve been in the unknown for a while now. We got told the decision this morning, there was a lot of disappointment in the room.
But there was also a feeling of relief, we have been told what’s going on. We had seen other sporting codes stop, we were questioning what we should be doing as a sport.” Govers said.
“We don’t know what the Olympics looks like moving forward. It’s a scary situation to be in, the unknown. But there’s a broader issue going on here, we want to do our bit to support those affected.” he said.
Cancellation not on the agenda
Earlier, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it would not send athletes to the Games this year, issuing an “urgent” call for the event to be postponed for 12 months.
“While we recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the committee said.
There are growing calls to postpone the Games in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying postponing the Games may be an option.
On Sunday, the IOC said a cancellation was “not on the agenda.”