The 2020 Summer Olympics have been postponed until 2021, less than 48 hours after the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it was pulling its athletes from potential competition this summer and demanding the event be pushed back.
“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the COC said in a statement Sunday.
“This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health. With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games.”
And while it’s no doubt a crushing blow – if not a totally unexpected one – for the those who would have been Tokyo-bound this summer, the general consensus from athletes with local ties is that is the right decision, with a number of players from Canada’s women’s fastpitch team taking to social media immediately after the announcement to voice their support for the COC decision, which in turn helped lead to the IOC’s announcement Tuesday morning.
“There’s a lot going on in the world right now… we have obviously taken a very strong stance as a country. I’m super proud to be from where I’m from, and super proud of our Olympic committee for doing what’s best for the overall health of athletes, support staff and everyone involved,” Team Canada softball veteran Jenn Salling said on Instagram.
The postponement is especially tough for members of the fastpitch team, specifically, considering the sport has been off the Olympic docket since 2008, and has already been knocked from the schedule for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“I am unsure how to feel right now. So many things are transpiring so quickly around the word that it almost doesn’t feel like reality,” wrote Team Canada pitcher, and former White Rock Renegade star, Sara Groenewegen in an Instagram post.
“Some athletes, like myself, have worked our entire lives for this year, this one moment in our careers. Us softball athletes haven’t had the opportunity to ‘get another chance’ in another four years as our sport was removed from the Olympic stage in 2008.”
We’ve waited 12 years for this, we can wait 1 more… 💪🏼🥎❤️ https://t.co/d9pm1tQT3h
— Sara Groenewegen (@saragroe) March 23, 2020
Groenewegen added that she hopes everyone continues to be vigilant in helping curtail the spread of the virus.
“We must remain hopeful and continue to control what we can control, which is our daily actions against the spread of this virus… We are all in this together.”
For a handful of the team’s veterans, this summer may also have been their last with the national program, as they instead move to other phases of their lives with no Olympic softball available again until 2028 at the earliest.
Until recently, the Canadian softball team – which also includes former White Rock Renegade pitcher Danielle Lawrie-Locke and Cloverdale’s Holly Speers – had been training as group in Halifax. In light of the current pandemic, however, players have recently returned to their respective homes across Canada and the U.S.
The announcement came as no surprise to Lawrie-Locke, who noted in an online video Sunday – prior to the IOC’s official postponement – that “we all know with the way the world is, there isn’t going to be an Olympics in July.”
The 2020 Games were originally scheduled to run from July 24-Aug. 9.
“I don’t want to be in Tokyo right now… right now, I’m pretty much quarantined in my house,” continued Lawrie-Locke, who lives in the Seattle area.
And though a postponement is not ideal – under normal circumstances, anyway – Salling and Groenewegen both added that they plan to just keep moving forward until they eventually get to play.
“The Olympics are not cancelled… we will continue to train and do everything we’ve been doing,” Salling said. “Thank you everyone for your thoughts – we’ll just keep on, keeping on.”
In a message on Twitter Monday, Groenewegen wrote, “We’ve waited 12 years for this, we can wait 1 more…”