Posted by Editor on 03/23/20
Last night, the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees (COC and CPC) released a joint statement that they will not participate in the Games scheduled for Tokyo in July/August (Olympic) and August/September (Paralympic) [see COC & CPC Announce Canada Will Not Participate in 2020 Olympics/Paralympics This Summer]. Canada was the first nation to make this declaration, followed by Australia a few hours later.
We have reached out to Canadian cyclists and para-cyclists who have been training to compete at these Games. The ones who have responded thus far, have all voiced their support for the decision. We are proud to be able to share their thoughts:
Ross Wilson (C1 Para athlete, Road and Track)
Yesterday's announcement was a dichotomy of emotions for me - pride and grief.
I sit as Vice-Chair on Athlete Council of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. I had the opportunity to part of the conversation first hand; to see Canadian Athletes come together and recognize that the world events represent a magnitude of severity that eclipses our aspiration for the Games. I am incredibly proud to be part of this group showing leadership to the world by putting the health and well being of all humans ahead of the desire for athletic achievement. In my opinion the recognition of the needs of humanity is a reflection of the Paralympic ideals and makes me very proud to be part of Team Canada.
At the same time, as an athlete I am disappointed that I won't have the opportunity to represent Canada in August, that there may be questions of athlete selection in the future, that there will likely be much logistical uncertainty in moving forward, and that the dreams and aspirations of my friends have been disrupted. The true impact of the pandemic is still unknown to me; para-cycling is a balancing act between family and employment commitments offset against cycling. I don't know how my balance may or may not be impacted. I think many athletes will be in a similar position and learning to live with the uncertainty and anxiety will be the norm.
Haley Smith (Mountain Bike)
This is obviously a very emotional time (for everyone, not just athletes), and it's been challenging to process. I believe that a Games postponement is the right decision, and I think the COC and CPC made the right decision in calling for this. As someone who is hoping to represent their country for the first time at an Olympic Games, the whole situation has left me grieving a bit. My dreams felt like they were within my grasp and now those dreams are definitely a bit farther away. But it's important to remember that this is the right decision for the health of society. And that is much bigger than me and my own personal dreams. Right now is a time to act unselfishly, and while it's okay to be sad and angry at the universe, there really is no other course of action than a call for postponement.
I'm doing my best to focus on the collective rather than self, and to employ the strategies I've learned through sport: namely, resilience, determination, optimism, and perseverance. I will keep training and will keep my eyes and heart open to the joys of every day living. Bike racing is not the only thing in my life, and I'm grateful for that. My family, friends, and upcoming wedding to my best friend are all things bringing me joy right now. Plus, I can still work out all my frustrations on the bike, so that's good!
We'll get through this. It is just another storm to be weathered.
Shelley Gautier (T1 Para athlete, Road)
Having been a 8x World Champion, it is time to remind everyone that taking care of each other right now is much more important than getting ourselves and other individuals sick by competing and racing against each other.
Remember to encourage others to stay fit. Ride the bike indoors and outdoors when you can. It is a fun activity what ever way you ride it. For fun and exercise, to race on computer and Skype. It keeps you fit and passes the time. We will be ready to race whenever possible.
Leandre Bouchard (Mountain Bike)
We received big news yesterday. First, I was a bit sad because it is an impactful decision from the COC. But then I put it in perspective, and think about what is important; we have to think about the health of everybody first. Athletes need to show an example.
I will still keep going and chasing goals, whether it is World Cup, world championships or Olympics, I will continue to do my best when it will be possible in the future. We don't really know when that will be possible; before this I was focussed on the World Cup [in Nove Mesto at the end of May], to get selected [for Tokyo]. I was feeling pretty good for that, and my home town was helping by raising money to help me. Now we don't know exactly what the goal will be.
The good thing is that Canada has acted as a leader. I think a postponement of one year is the best way, and I hope that other countries follow, like Australia.
Peter Disera (Mountain Bike)
I saw the decision calling for postponement. I understand that pulling out of the current schedule is logical and honestly I wasn't expecting for them to be able to go ahead as planned anyways. I was a little emotional about the whole thing because it really drives home the reality that everything is up in the air.
Hopefully a reschedule will be possible and they will still be able to go off but this put so much in jeopardy like selection and preparation. For now, I am switching back to base training, focusing as getting as good as I can for what might be a marathon season at the end of the year. Taking it day by day and keeping my head above water!
I learned last night in a communication from Cycling Canada the decision that the COC had taken to not send a delegation to a 2020 Olympics. I think most of us had already accepted there would not be a July Olympics, but we always remain optimistic the best case scenario would reveal itself. To be given this definite closure on 2020 is sad, but I remain hopeful the Games will go on in 2021.
This of course will add several layers of complication to selections, preparations, and sponsorships to name a few, but if there is anything I have learned from the past three Olympics it is that our support staff are just as invested in our Olympic dreams as we are and will do their best to lead us to an outcome we can all celebrate. In the meantime I will keep riding and training because riding is about more than racing.
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