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Australia rejects collusion suggestion around Tokyo withdrawal

Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll (Photo by SAEED KHAN / AFP) / -- IMAGE(Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Australian Olympic Committee has said its decision to withdraw from Tokyo 2020 was unilateral, moving to quash speculation that it had acted in concert with Canada and the International Olympic Committee.

Reuters reported that Australia and Canada’s withdrawals, both announced last Monday, had “prompted speculation that the two national Olympic committees may have acted in concert with the IOC to give the global body leverage to postpone Tokyo”.

Tokyo 2020 was finally postponed last Tuesday, and yesterday new dates next year were announced.

Australia said yesterday that it had acted unilaterally. Last Friday, Canada had asserted the same.

In a statement to Reuters, the AOC said: “Any assertions that a decision by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) to tell its athletes to plan for a Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 was done in concert with either the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) are completely incorrect.”

The AOC said its withdrawal was the result of Australian government measures introduced the day before, including travel restrictions and quarantines imposed at national and state borders.

The AOC said: “The effect of these measures as outlined, informed the Executive’s conclusion that an Australian Olympic Team could not depart our shores for a Games at any time within the next six months, at least.”

The story is one of many arising from the Tokyo 2020 postponement. Also in the last 24 hours, Tokyo officials said they were still considering the state of tickets purchased for this year’s Games, and that the additional costs of the delay were unclear. Officials had earlier said that tickets purchased for the 2020 Games would be usable at next year’s event.

And the coronavirus crisis will be incorporated into next year’s Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony, its executive producer Marco Balich said. Balich, an Italian who has produced several Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, is working with the Japanese organisers on the spectacle. He told Reuters: “I think for sure the Olympic ceremony, which is a window of all humanity, will have to reflect somehow or reference somehow what has happened…

“The creative team will have to acknowledge what has happened. In this beautiful Japanese aesthetic… they will address some kind of a message for this new way of living we all have to confront.

“I think that the effort that the creative team (in Japan) will have to face is how to translate this very harsh moment.”