OTTAWA – Are the World Relays in jeopardy? One week before the start of the two-day meeting, Athletics Canada announced this weekend that it will not be sending a team to the World Athletics Relays Silesia21. The event is slated to take place in Chorzow, Poland, from May 1 to 2.
The decision by Athletics Canada to pull the team for the meet came in the light of the COVID-19 concerns across Europe and around the world.
The relay teams have been training in Baton Rouge, La., over the last week and were even in action during the 2021 LSU Alumni Gold meeting at Bernie Moore Track Stadium on Saturday, April 24, where the men’s 4x100m side clocked 38.58 seconds to win.
However, the chiefs made the decision to withdraw the squad with the safety of the athletes and traveling staff in mind.
“The safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority,” Athletics Canada’s High-Performance Director Simon Nathan said in a release. “Though showing signs of improvement, Poland is reporting a very high level of COVID-19 and travellers are strongly encouraged to avoid all non-essential travel in and out of Poland, even those who are fully vaccinated.
“Most of the Canadian team is not vaccinated, neither are most of the people who will be involved with the competition, therefore, there are increased risks associated with gathering alongside others from different parts of the world.
“We know this is disappointing news given the implications it may have on qualifying for the Olympic Games; however, we made this decision with our team’s health and safety at heart.”
Nathan also noted that there were concerns about the athletes when they return from the World Athletics Relays Silesia21 – given that many of them would need to mandatory quarantine from the Poland trip, while it is understood that several others would face uncertainties over their ability to return to the United States for training and competition.
“If an athlete were to contact COVID-19, it will compromise their preparation for Tokyo – even if they are asymptomatic – as they will be required to self-isolate,” said Nathan.
“It will also compromise everyone with whom they have had close contact with, as they will have to isolate regardless of their symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test. These issues are magnified for a relay team, as compared to individual events.”
The likes of Jamaica, the United States and Trinidad and Tobago are also among the teams pulling out of the event.