Photo: Moises Castillo, Associated Press
“I was torn apart thinking of all the work I have invested in over the last few Games of Rio, responded honestly swimmer Jacqueline Simoneau (right on the photo). Then as I continued to read his message, I understood that it was bigger than we, the athletes, that it was a matter of public health.”
The canadian athletes have ambivalent feelings the day after the decision of their Committees olympic and paralympic not to send teams to the Games to Tokyo if they are held as scheduled in July due to risks related to the COVID-19.
They acknowledge in unison that this is the best possible decision in the light of the world situation of a pandemic, they are also disappointed as the athletes to be deprived of the more famous tribune sports, at least for the moment.
Swimmer Jacqueline Simoneau admits to have been in shock when she learned the position of the COC to a message from the chef de mission of the delegation of canada, Marnie McBean, Sunday. “I was torn apart thinking of all the work I have invested in over the last few Games of Rio, has honestly answered Simoneau. Then as I continued to read his message, I understood that it was bigger than we, the athletes, that it was a matter of public health. “
And even if the latest information suggests that the IOC is in the process of working on the details of the postponement of the Games, Simoneau is adamant : she would remain supportive of the decision of the COC even though the event had to be presented in July without the presence of Canada. “Canada wants to be a leader and lead by example by putting public health ahead of everything else. So I’m really grateful. “
Weightlifter Kristel Ngarlem has said to be amazed at the speed with which Canada has taken its position, becoming the first country to do so. It has since been imitated by Australia and the voices are more urgent to encourage the IOC and the Japan to postpone the event to next year.
“I was taken by surprise on Sunday when I learned of the new at the same time as the publication of the statement of the COC, has awarded the athlete of 24 years. As the IOC had said take a few weeks to make a decision on a possible postponement, my choice would have been to wait a little. But I also understand the decision. “
Ngarlem is also disappointed that the athletes have not been consulted, or even informed in advance so that they are the main concerned.
The gymnast René Cournoyer regret to have heard the news almost at the same time as the publication of the press release. “It is a decision which I was expecting, but it was a shock that it comes as quickly, agreed the Repentignois of 22 years. I would have appreciated to know it before the public. “” As soon as the news broke, I was bombarded with messages from my family and friends who lamented to me. It is frustrating to have known at the same time as everyone else even if the decision has been taken in our best interest. “
The kayaker, whitewater Florence Maheu, who already had his ticket to Tokyo, believes that the position of Canada wants to be the best scenario for the athletes to present the Games to the best of their form. “It is certain that we train for four years knowing that the Games will be presented in the summer of 2020, and not in the fall or in 2021, said Maheu, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. It is a source of disappointment and uncertainty. “
“At the same time, everyone wants to participate in the Games safely. Canada has taken a strong position in the hope to initiate a movement and put pressure on the IOC to see the Games. And this decision puts a little less pressure on the athletes to find a way to continue to train. “
In the event that the IOC and the organizing committee will finally decide to give the Games to Tokyo in the next year, Cournoyer says it is ready to impose the sacrifices it takes to live the olympic experience in its ” full splendor “.
“In the current context where we do not result in adequate conditions for the olympics, I don’t think it would even be realistic to hold them in October or November. This is not ideal to have to wait another year, but this would allow all athletes to benefit from the best possible preparation. “
The veteran diver Meaghan Benfeito, who has already taken part in the Games of Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, would like to put the things in perspective. “At the time, it is disappointing. We put so much effort in training for the olympic rendezvous. But when you think about it, it is the health of the world that is involved. The Games can still be delivered. “
The triple olympic medallist, who trains with makeshift home, she adds, also be relieved, not only for his personal health, but also for his entourage. “You don’t want to catch the virus and risk passing it on to your loved ones. I want them to stay healthy. “
The ex-plodder and olympian Dominick Gauthier, originally the last week of an initiative to put pressure on the IOC to force it to change its plans, salutes the courage demonstrated by the canadian olympic Committee, ” I was expecting there to be an announcement shortly, but I never was expecting it to be so strong, so brave. I thought that it would simply put pressure on the IOC to postpone the Games. But then, we went to a tick above, and I say bravo to the leadership team. “
“This is not an easy decision, but it was good. This morning, even those who were not in favour of such a decision are aware that the COC is and will be a world leader. “
Gauthier pointed out in passing that Canada has never been afraid to play a leadership role, even on sensitive issues. “Look for what is of the fight against doping. We are the first to speak out loud and clear. It shows that in Canada, we are not afraid to speak, even when we are not in agreement with the other. “
The boxing trainer Stephan Larouche abounds in the same direction. “The decision (COC) is worthy of a great organization and it will surely snowball. It is unfortunate however for some athletes who did not prepare the participation to the olympics for the past four years, but for the past 12 years. A few have just missed their qualification during the previous Games and this was their last chance to go there. “
With Frédéric Daigle (The canadian Press)