Coronavirus: Canada withdraws from competing at Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus

Canada is the first country to officially boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

As a result, the Canadian Olympic (COC) and Paralympic (CPC) committees have urgently called on their international counterparts and the World Health Organization (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year.

Their announcement said the decision was not not solely about athlete health - it was also about public health.

"With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games.

"In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice, which we urge all Canadians to follow.

"The COC and CPC reviewed the letter and news release sent Sunday by the IOC. We are thankful to the IOC for its assurance that it will not be cancelling the Tokyo 2020 Games and appreciative that it understands the importance of accelerating its decision-making regarding a possible postponement.

"We also applaud the IOC for acknowledging that safeguarding the health and wellness of nations, and containing the virus must be our paramount concern. We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport." 

Opposition to holding the Games in July has risen sharply in the past 48 hours, with several major stakeholders such as US 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

Meanwhile,  the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has warned its athletes to prepare for a Tokyo Olympics in the northern summer of 2021.

The AOC says an Australian team can't be assembled for the Tokyo Games, which is scheduled to start in July 24.

"We have athletes based overseas, training at central locations around Australia as teams and managing their own programmes.

"With travel and other restrictions, this becomes an untenable situation," AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said on Monday.

NZ Olympic Committee president Mike Stanley confirmed it would seriously consider boycotting the Tokyo Games, if the International Olympic Committee decided not to postpone.