Coronavirus: London world champion swimmer reacts to Canada’s withdrawal from Tokyo Olympics

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London-born world champion swimmer Maggie MacNeil says she agrees with the Canadian Olympic Committee’s (COC) decision to keep Canadian athletes from attending the 2020 Summer Olympics if the Games aren’t pushed back amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Games are set to begin in Tokyo, Japan, on July 24, with the Paralympics slated to follow on Aug. 25. The COC announced Sunday it wouldn’t send a team unless the Games were postponed until the summer of 2021, a move that was praised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and quickly followed by the Australian Olympic Committee.

“It’s definitely the best decision for society as a whole, and the seriousness of this is something you really have to consider and take seriously, especially among the older population,” MacNeil told Craig Needles of Global News Radio 980 CFPL on Monday.

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The 20-year-old MacNeil was expected to be among those travelling to Tokyo as part of Team Canada and was considered a medal favourite. MacNeil won a gold medal in the 100-metre butterfly at the world championships last summer in South Korea, dethroning Olympic champion Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden. With countless cancellations, however, only 57 per cent of Olympic qualification spots have been determined.

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The decision of whether to postpone the Games lies with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). MacNeil said she hopes some other large countries follow Canada and Australia’s lead in pulling their athletes and calling for the Games to be delayed,

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