The Canadian swimming team have become the latest delegation to pull out of a pre-Olympic training camp in Japan ahead of the Tokyo Games due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Plans for some 50 training camps in Japanhave been scrapped, the majority due to concerns over the pandemic, as Tokyo and other major cities remain under a state of emergency aimed at containing a fourth wave of infections.
The Canadian team of about 60 swimmers and coaches were originally scheduled to stay in the city of Toyota, about 250 km (155 miles) west of Tokyo, from July 9 to July 30, Kyodo reported on Friday.
“We will no longer be doing our holding camp at Toyota City and Chukyo University and will be going straight into the Olympic Games village,” High Performance Director John Atkinson said on Swimming Canada’s website.
Canada had used Toyota as a camp for the 2019 world Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, and the team had been looking forward to accessing the world-class facilities, he added.
“Given the circumstances of this year and the COVID-19 situation in Japan, however, this decision is in the best interests of all involved.”
The U.S. track and field team cancelled its training camp in the eastern prefecture of Chiba last week, while dozens of Japanese towns have abandoned plans to host athletes due to concerns they will overburden stretched medical resources.
The global sporting event, which was postponed by a year due to the pandemic, faces mounting opposition from the public, and in a Reuters company survey released on Friday nearly 70% of respondents said they wanted a cancellation or further postponement.
With just nine weeks to go until the opening ceremony, the International Olympic Committee has sought to calm fears in Japan that the Games would present an additional burden to a medical system already strained by the pandemic.
Kicking off a three-day meeting to discuss Olympic preparations and coronavirus countermeasures on Wednesday, IOC chief Thomas Bach said he believed more than 80% of residents of the Olympic Village would be vaccinated or booked for vaccination ahead of July 23, when the Games start.
He also said additional medical personnel would be part of the foreign Olympic delegations “to support the medical operations and the strict implementation of the COVID-19 countermeasures” at the Games.
Organisers are also making arrangements to halve the number of people coming to Japan as part of foreign Olympic delegations, broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday.
Some 94,000 people are expected to make their way to Japan for the Games, down from an initial estimate of 200,000 NHK said citing unnamed government sources. L2N2N70DW
The IOC and other organisers will wrap up the three day meeting on Friday with a news conference scheduled for 1030 GMT.