Canadian Olympic Committee praises health measures ahead of Friday’s opening of Tokyo Olympics

Team Canada’s chief medical officer said no members of Canada’s delegation in Japan has tested positive for COVID-19 as the Tokyo Olympics ready to begin.

“The plans we have in place are robust. There are a lot of Canadian, homegrown systems in place, including monitoring of air quality,” Dr. Mike Wilkinson told the media at the Canadian Olympic Committee’s media availability prior to Friday’s opening ceremony . “I am confident that we’ve done everything we can to keep everyone safe.”

Wilkinson said the Canadian doctors and support staff have taken extra precautions and measures above what is being asked of them in Japan to keep Canada’s athletes safe.

“There are significant measures for the Canadian team,” he said. “We plan for the worst and hope for the best. We have many contingency plans.”

Wilkinson commended the Canadian athletes for their discipline in adhering to the measures as they know they are one positive test away from having their Olympic dream ended. Any athlete who tests positive must immediately leave the Games and quarantine.

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He said they are also monitoring the air quality at the facilities and venues, bringing in extra teams to pre-sanitize surfaces and along with many other countermeasures.

So while much of the focus continues to be on protecting the athletes so they can compete in these pandemic Olympics, Team Canada chef de mission Marnie McBean wanted to remind Canadians about the journey the athletes have endured just to get to this moment.

“The story they’ve written already is something they can be incredibly proud of,” said McBean, a three-time Olympic champion. “This Olympics is a celebration of hope. We want to bring everyone up with us.”

Tokyo Olympic Stadium, site of Friday’s opening ceremony, is pictured in the background as a couple take a selfie photograph on Shibuya Sky Deck on Thursday. (Getty Images)

McBean was forthright about the challenges Canadian athletes have faced since the Games were postponed last March. Canada was the first country to announce its intention not to participate in the Olympics last summer.

“From the moment we asked Canadian athletes to come home and stay in their basements and condos and homes and backyards like the rest of Canada, we were hoping we would get to this point,” McBean said. “To all Canadians, we’ve been with you. We meant it when we came home that we’re all Team Canada.”

On Friday evening in Tokyo, celebrations will be muted compared to past opening ceremonies at the Olympics. There will be no public spectators inside the National Olympic Stadium for the event. 

The Parade of Nations will be noticeably smaller — Team Canada will have only 30 to 40 athletes marching into the venue behind flag-bearers Miranda Ayim, a basketball player, and Nathan Hirayama of the men’s rugby sevens team The full team is 370, Canada’s largest contingent of athletes for a Games since 1984 in Los Angeles.

“We are celebrating our common humanity together. This can be a symbol of hope,” said COC president Tricia Smith.  “We’ve never felt more united. We’ve never felt stronger.”