Gymnastics: Canada to skip Olympic qualifier due to COVID-19

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(Reuters) - Gymnastics Canada said on Friday they have decided not to enter teams in the Pan American Championships being held in Brazil due to health and safety concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The June 4-13 event in Rio de Janeiro was Canada's last chance qualifier event for the Tokyo Olympics in men's artistic, women's artistic, and rhythmic gymnastics.

"We realize the impact these decisions have on our athletes, especially those senior athletes that have dedicated so many years to their ambition of competing at the Olympic Games," Gymnastics Canada Chief Executive Ian Moss said in a statement.

"We will do everything we can not only to support all athletes and coaches impacted by this decision through this difficult period, but to also provide hope and opportunity moving forward towards their international goals in the future."

Canada had the opportunity to qualify one more athlete in men's and women's artistic, respectively, and one individual and one group in rhythmic gymnastics at the competition.

The event was also a qualifier for trampoline gymnastics, but there is one more chance to qualify for that discipline at a World Cup competition to be held in Italy in the coming weeks.

Athletes and coaches had the opportunity to appeal the decision and Gymnastics Canada said it went through the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada arbitration process with these individuals to show transparency around the decision.

The result of the appeal, which ruled in Gymnastics Canada's favour, was delivered to all parties on Thursday.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge)