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  • Athletes Chat About Canada's Olympic Exit


    (ATR) U.S. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones and Canadian pole vaulter Alysha Newman took to Instagram for a lively chat following Canada’s announcement to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics unless the IOC postpones them.
    Lolo Jones at a 2012 meet in the Czech Republic (ATR)

    The duo of extroverted athletes aired out concerns, challenges and shared personal insight on Sunday night.

    “I think it’s great Canada stepped up – this is a cry for more support,” Jones told Newman. “I hope USA pulls out of the Olympics.”

    “I think all of the Commonwealth countries are going to come together,” Newman responded, alluding to potential NOC withdrawals.

    “Athletes have been robbed of the opportunity to prepare,” Jones said of the current coronavirus pandemic. “People can’t expect us to train for an hour in our house and come out blazing.”

    Newman, 25, the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion and Canadian record holder, noted that it's currently impossible to pole vault and she has only managed to run hills in a nearby park.

    “People want us to put on a good show with world records being broken,” Newman said. “You want to leave the Olympics feeling like you’ve given it your all.

    “People say you’ve had three years of training, but we’ve [been] off for three weeks now and it’s a gradual build-up,” the Canadian noted, speaking to Jones from her parents’ home in Ontario, Canada.

    Alysha Newman won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (Team Canada)
    The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced Sunday night that they will refuse to send athletes to the Tokyo Games due to COVID-19, should the event not be postponed for one year. Australia followed Canada’s lead, withdrawing from the Games scheduled to open July 24th, telling its athletes to prepare for a 2021 Games instead.

    The COC statement acknowledged that it reviewed the IOC’s letter to athletes and a news release issued on Sunday. It called on the IOC, International Paralympic Committee and World Health Organization to act urgently.

    “While we recognize the inherent complexion around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the COC stated.

    Australian Olympic Committee chief executive officer Matt Carroll addressed media at a news conference in Sydney.

    “With travel restrictions in place by the government, combined with the decision of the IOC, we have decided to plan towards a Games in Tokyo in 2021,” Carroll said.

    Earlier Sunday, IOC president Thomas Bach issued a letter directly to athletes via Athlete365, advising that the IOC is stepping up scenario planning and will issue a decision about the Tokyo Games 2020 within four weeks.

    Lolo Jones says Thomas Bach and the IOC are "just taking too long" to make a decision. (ATR)
    About the IOC’s decision-making process, Jones said: “They’re just taking too long. The announcement they made today isn’t really anything – they’ve just stalled us again.

    “I think the IOC is putting myself and my teammates at risk for the Olympic Games,” she said, referring to IOC president Bach’s advice for athletes to keep training despite that many training centers and facilities around the world are now closed due to the coronarvirus outbreak.

    “They need to be postponed – it’s up to Japan to do it.”

    Jones, 37, represented the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games. In 2008, she had a commanding lead in the women’s 100-meter hurdles before clipping the ninth obstacle, stumbling and finishing seventh. She also competed in bobsleigh at the Sochi 2014 Games.

    The three-time Olympian joked that if there is any athlete that should not want the Games postponed it should be her as she’ll soon be 40.

    Both track and field athletes expressed serious concerns about not only their inability to train adequately, but about athletes potentially injuring themselves considering lack of preparation.

    Jones cited the inherent dangers of tackling hurdles, performing intricate gymnastics routines or swimmers pulling hamstrings in the pool, all exacerbated if competing out of form.

    The U.S. Olympian joked about her poor eating habits while being confined to her home. “I just had myself a pizza on Friday night and then had the leftovers the next morning.”

    Newman said she was only able to buy two eggs at the store, the shelves nearly bare.

    Jones is aiming to qualify for one final Olympic Games as USA’s Track and Field’s qualifying process remains up in the air.

    “I hope everybody gets the vibe of what Olympic hopefuls are going through, but we’ve felt the stress from IOC.

    “Once you go to the Olympics, you learn how to tough it out and with qualifying, but this is on another kind of reality,” Jones said. “I don’t want to get sick.”

    Written and reported by Brian Pinelli

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