VANCOUVER, CANADA (MARCH 23, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN RACE WALKER, EVAN DUNFEE, SAYING:
"I'm really proud of the COC (Canadian Olympic Committee) coming out and taking a bold and firm stance and doing it so quickly. Yesterday morning we saw a lot of athletes who were a little bit disappointed with the IOC's delay and saying 'okay, give us four more weeks.' Well, kind of like no, we need to know. We are trying to train now. Thomas Bach basically told athletes to keep training as best they could and that kind of meant going against what the government of Canada is recommending we do. Athletes were stressed out and the last thing they want to be doing is putting themselves or their family or their friends at any greater risk than necessary. Athletes were having to make that decision about how they get their training in. For the COC to come out and just take that decision away from the athletes and give them that peace of mind and say: 'Do what's best for you and your family, your friends right now and for the country, and we'll worry about an Olympics when it's necessary and when it becomes important again to worry about things like sport'."
2. WHITE FLASH
3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN RACE WALKER, EVAN DUNFEE, SAYING:
4. WHITE FLASH
5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN RACE WALKER, EVAN DUNFEE, SAYING:
"I certainly think so. I mean, you look in the U.S., you had USA Track and Field and USA Swimming both come out before the COC announcement, making their stance, asking for the IOC to delay. Those are two of the marquee sports at the Olympics and they carry a lot of weight within the U.S. Olympic Committee. We'll see what dominoes start to fall now. Canada sort of took the leadership role there and got it out there first. And now we're seeing as you said Australia and I'm sure we'll see other countries in the coming days follow suit. I know that the Canadian decision makers are also going to be available to those other countries to talk about how they came to their decision and all that stuff and be a resource. I do think we'll start to see other countries speak out as well. I can't see any scenario in which the Games go ahead in July."
6. WHITE FLASH
7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN RACE WALKER, EVAN DUNFEE, SAYING:
"I'm very lucky in that regard. About 90% of my training is just putting my shoes on and getting out the door and walking for ungodly amounts of kilometres. As long as in Canada we're still allowed to be outside, practicing social isolation and social distancing and being on our own. As long as I can still be outside safely, I'll continue to train. For me my goals kind of shift a little bit, that goal of the Olympics maybe gets kicked down the road, a year or two years potentially, but my other goals revolve around being the best that I can possibly be and trying to reach my potential. So, that doesn't change much, I'm still pretty motivated every morning to get out and get the training in and just see what I am capable of doing."
8. WHITE FLASH
9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN RACE WALKER, EVAN DUNFEE, SAYING:
"Yes, I'm just sort of staying alone in my apartment. The one thing that I've seen from all this is that a lot of people have significant others or pets. I'm just trying to take things day by day on my own here. Basically, just staying inside when I'm not training. If I'm going out to train, just making sure I keep my distance from people. The streets I train on are pretty empty anyways. I feel fairly confident and so long as the government of Canada says that that's okay, I'll continue to do that. My parents live not too far away, they are about six kilometres away. I'm going to look at seeing the feasibility of spending some time other there. If they are the only two people I ever interact with, then hopefully that will be okay. I'll talk to our medical staff and see if that's feasible and how that all pans out. Lots of phone calls with friends for sure."
DOHA, QATAR (FILE - SEPTEMBER 29, 2019) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)
10. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DUNFEE HOLDING UP A CANADIAN FLAG AND CELEBRATING HIS BRONZE MEDAL IN THE MEN'S 50-KILOMETRE RACE WALK AT THE WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
11. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DUNFEE WITH HIS BRONZE MEDAL
LIMA, PERU (FILE - AUGUST 4, 2019) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)
12. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DUNFEE COMPETING AT THE PAN AMERICAN GAMES
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FILE - AUGUST 19, 2016) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)
13. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DUNFEE COMPETING AT THE 2016 RIO OLYMPIC GAMES
STORY: Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee said on Monday (March 23) that he was proud of his country for deciding not to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games due to concerns about the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Dunfee, who won bronze in the 50-kilometre race walk at last year's world championships, told Reuters that the decision gave the athletes clarity with the fate of the Games expected to be decided in the next four weeks.
The 29-year-old lives in Vancouver and is adopting the Canadian government's rules on social distancing and said he is still training despite the country's decision to withdraw from the Games as he hopes they will be rescheduled for a later date.
Opposition to holding the Games in July has risen sharply in the past 48 hours, with several major stakeholders such as U.S. Track and Field and UK Athletics, along with several national Olympic committees, calling for a delay because of the pandemic.
More than 13,000 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak began.
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Paralympic Committee (CPC) called for both the Olympics and Paralympics to be postponed.
The IOC said on Sunday it would hold discussions that would include an option of putting back the July 24 start date or even moving the Games by a year or more due to the global coronavirus outbreak, but said cancelling the Games would not solve problems or help anybody.
Canada's withdrawal, along with Australia who followed suit on Monday, will add to growing pressure on the IOC to alter the schedule after criticism from a slew of current and former athletes with health concerns.
The Olympics have never been postponed or canceled during peacetime but the IOC's decision to even consider postponement was met with relief from several major stakeholders, including World Athletics, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and major national Olympic committees.
(Production: Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber, Tim Hart)