Canada withdraws from World Athletics Relays due to COVID-19
Athletics Canada has confirmed its withdrawal from the 2021 World Athletics Relays, with it being the latest nation to pull out of the event in Chorzów in Poland.
Scheduled to take place on May 1 and 2, Canada joins Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Australia in missing the event, while the United States reportedly has also withdrawn, but USA Track and Field has not confirmed this.
Athletics Canada made the decision in light of the COVID-19 situation in Poland, as well as a rise in cases in Canada and around the world.
The Canadian relay squad had been in Baton Rouge in Louisiana in the US over the past week to participate in its annual relay training camp.
Before withdrawing from the competition, the Canadian team were set to practice with races at Louisiana State University.
"The safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority," said Athletics Canada's high performance director Simon Nathan.
"Though showing signs of improvement, Poland is reporting a very high level of COVID-19 and travelers are strongly encouraged to avoid all non-essential travel in and out of Poland, even those who are fully vaccinated.
"Most of the Canadian team is not vaccinated, neither are most of the people who will be involved with the competition, therefore, there are increased risks associated with gathering alongside others from different parts of the world.
"We know this is disappointing news given the implications it may have on qualifying for the Olympic Games - however, we made this decision with our team's health and safety at heart.
"If an athlete were to contract COVID-19, it will compromise their preparation for Tokyo - even if they are asymptomatic - as they will be required to self-isolate.
"It will also compromise everyone with whom they have had close contact with, as they will have to isolate regardless of their symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test.
"These issues are magnified for a relay team, as compared to individual events."
Canada had entered men's and women's 4x100 meters relay teams as well as women's and mixed 4x400m relay teams for the event.
Poland recorded 7,235 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, with 193 new deaths.
posted Tuesday April 27th
by Michael Houston