Due to the COVID-19 situation in Ontario and other provinces, Swimming Canada is changing the Olympic & Paralympic Swimming Trials, Presented by Bell.
Swimming Canada’s primary selection event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic teams was scheduled to run May 24-28 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (“TPASC”).
“In light of the state of emergency and stay-at-home order in Ontario, as well as travel restrictions in and out of other provinces, Swimming Canada’s board of directors, in consultation with management, has determined that the May dates for Trials are no longer viable,” said President Cheryl Gibson, who led an emergency board meeting to review the situation Monday evening. “We have therefore asked management to explore plans to hold the Trials in June.”
“The Olympic Trials will now be held at TPASC June 19-23, replacing the previously scheduled Invitational Qualifier. Swimming Canada is also pursuing options for holding the Trials elsewhere in North America should running the event in Toronto not be viable based on factors at the time. The dates would remain the same in an alternate location. A decision of whether to move the event, if possible, will be made by the end of May or sooner,” said CEO Ahmed El-Awadi.
“We understand the great strain governments, provinces, and municipalities have been under in Canada and this is in no way a judgement of their hard work and having to constantly change almost on a daily basis during the pandemic. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for the athletes to race prior to the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games”
“The Paralympic Trials portion is cancelled for Toronto and this year and we will create alternative competitive opportunities as the new June dates conflict with a World Para-swimming event in Berlin. The respective selection committees will follow-up with athletes in both the Olympic and Paralympic participant groups on official clarification of selection procedures in the coming days,” El-Awadi added.
Swimming Canada will also work with its provincial sections, where possible, to sanction racing opportunities around late May/early June, being cognizant of the fact some regions and provinces may not be allowed to hold events due to public health regulations. This would allow athletes who have been training to peak at that time to post potential qualifying times for the Olympic Games and/or Paralympic Games subject to approval from International Federations.
“The Swimming Canada Olympic Program selection committee has already invoked the ‘unexpected circumstances’ clause in our criteria to select the Olympic team, and the selection committee for the Paralympic Program will be meeting to consider the implications of the decisions,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “The Olympic selection committee will work to determine the best methodology to nominate the team under this clause. We are now looking at other ways to create opportunities for swimmers to post official times to stand for consideration. We are considering all options to choose the best teams to represent Canada in the fairest way possible under very difficult circumstances. We will leave no stone unturned as we work to give our athletes the best possible opportunities to race and a chance to represent Canada.”
“This is another difficult decision in a series of difficult decisions over the past year-plus,” added CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “Making changes to an event of this scale is an incredibly complex undertaking with many variables. We are working with multiple levels of government, sport partners, public health organizations, laws, regulations, athletes and coaches, facilities such as TPASC and provincial sections that are each facing different realities. More communication will be held with Paralympic and Olympic trials invitees and coaches in due course. We thank our community for their patience and adaptability over the past few months and look forward to seeing fast swimming again soon.”