Time will tell on Canada withdrawal from Tokyo Games - De Grasse

(Reuters) - Time will tell if Canada’s decision to withdraw from the 2020 Olympics was the right one, three-time Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse said on Monday as the coronavirus pandemic cast doubt on whether the 2020 Tokyo Games can go ahead as scheduled.

“I don’t know if it was premature to do that before a decision (by the International Olympic committee) was made,” said 25-year-old sprinter De Grasse, who took home a silver and two bronze medals from the 2016 Rio Games.

“I don’t want to miss the Olympics but I understand how fragile this situation is.

“I think time will tell if this was the right decision or not,” he added after Sunday’s announcement by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Paralympic Committee (CPC).

IOC member Dick Pound told Reuters on Monday a postponement of the Games until 2021 is all but assured, as the coronavirus outbreak hits sporting events across the globe.

The IOC said on Sunday it was stepping up its “scenario planning” for the Olympics -- including a possible postponement -- with details to be worked out in the next four weeks.

Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee, who was fourth in the 50-km event at the 2016 Games, applauded his country’s move.

“I’m really proud of the COC coming out and taking a bold stance and taking it so quickly,” Dunfee told Reuters on Monday.

“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,” he added.

Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber in Moscow; Writing by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris