OTTAWA – Swimming Canada welcomes the news of new confirmed dates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in 2021.
With the announcement that the Olympic Games will be held July 23 – Aug. 8, 2021, followed by the Paralympic Games Aug. 24 – Sept. 5, the organization is adjusting its high performance plans with those dates in mind.
“This is great news to get the dates for the Olympic and Paralympic Games so quickly,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “This will help our organization begin to prepare.”
With the 2021 FINA World Championships originally scheduled for July 16 – Aug. 1 in Fukuoka, Japan, Swimming Canada expects further announcements to clarify the world competition calendar.
“There are still more dates to be set but we know FINA just received the news as well and they need time to work with their partners and stakeholders to find a suitable time for the world championships as do many other international federations,” El-Awadi said.
“This is great news,” added High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “We have already been planning for what the rest of 2020 and the 2021 plans will look like, and we look forward to sharing more detail in the coming weeks.”
Atkinson has encouraged all swimmers, coaches and support staff to continue to follow all government guidelines with regard to social distancing, instructing athletes to train at home, on their own, under the advice of their coaches and/or other qualified experts.
“We fully support this stance,” Atkinson said. “In time it will be great to have plans in place to give our athletes and coaches from both the Olympic and Paralympic programs something to focus on. Before we can get to the detail we are now waiting for FINA to announce the revised Olympic qualification process for both the pool and the open water marathon swimming events. We are also looking to the International Paralympic Committee/World Para Swimming to review their process with regard to classification and events. What we do know is that qualified athletes and teams will remain qualified, so we are awaiting the additional details we need to move forward.”
Swimming Canada supports FINA and World Para Swimming moving their respective 2021 world championships to 2022 for a variety of reasons.
“Having the two premier Games and championships staged close together in the same year would create many challenges,” Atkinson said. “From budgets to program planning, to timing, to the risks of athletes being overloaded, there are so many unknowns. As we continue to navigate the uncertainty of this current global situation, we encourage FINA and World Para Swimming to choose 2022 as the best alternative for the world championships.”
Swimming Canada has also decided not to attend the 2020 FINA World Junior Open Water Championships Aug. 21-23 in Victoria, Seychelles.
“While we understand this is another disappointing decision for our athletes, the event falls in the period when other events have been cancelled or postponed because of the world situation with swimmers unable to train due to the measures in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” Atkinson said. “We hope to plan and announce new activities for those swimmers in the fall.”
El-Awadi added that he would like to thank the Government of Canada for its continued support through this challenging time.
“This is a very difficult time for all and we know the Government of Canada has thousands of decisions to make in a short period of time. While there are certainly more important things than sport, our swimmers will have a role to play when they return to inspire Canadians to embrace a lifestyle of fitness and health,” El-Awadi said. “That’s why we appreciate the support and assurances from our government that will help us continue to serve the Canadian swimming community through this difficult period and beyond.”