Statement from Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi in response to recent letters from Canadian Olympic Committee, USA Swimming re: postponement of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
We are very much aligned with many of the points USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey has raised. Telling athletes to prepare for an Olympic Games during a global pandemic raises serious issues. We hold the opinions of our brothers and sisters at USA Swimming in high regard, and share many of the same concerns around health and safety. That includes the safety and well-being of our athletes – both physically and mentally – and the safety of the community at large.
Each day that goes by without a decision creates more stress and anxiety for our athletes, who are worried not only about themselves but about their communities.
In the sport of swimming it is extremely difficult to maintain training without pools, which are closed across the country and in many countries worldwide. Our athletes have worked for years to pursue their Olympic and Paralympic dreams on a level playing field against the best in the world. They are doing their very best to adapt to the changes they are facing to their normal daily training environment, which is a testament to their character.
We have had consistent communication through the proper channels at the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee. We understand that they are working day and night with the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee to express Canadian feedback, concerns and ideas about the health and welfare of our athletes, coaches and support staff. We have been in mutual dialogue almost daily with the CEOs at the COC, David Shoemaker, and CPC, Karen O’Neill. We understand that they are fully engaged and working diligently to push the process towards a decision that is safe for not only our national teams, but Canadians and the global population in general.
We understand the IOC is going through an intensive process and are encouraged to hear IOC President Thomas Bach is considering different scenarios. We are looking forward to this process moving forward and hearing more from the IOC in the near future. The COC in an open letter dated March 17 identified that the hope for the Games must be put in context with the lives at risk on a global basis, and noted the challenges athletes face by being unable to train. The COC and CPC have been open to our feedback and are being true partners through positive dialogue and transparency.
We thank all our partners, including the COC, CPC, and Government of Canada, for their full engagement in ensuring that Canada is taking into account the safety, health and welfare of all athletes, coaches and support staff. Our leaders are working extremely hard on these important issues to advise the IOC to choose the right solution among the various alternatives.