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If you thought the International Olympic Committee was a piece of work, meet the International Triathlon Union.
It was supposed to be an automatic.
After the IOC was forced by the lead move of Canada in withdrawing our Olympic team from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 48 hours after the IOC had decided to wait four weeks to make a decision on the final fate of the event, the ITU was expected to follow up and postpone the Edmonton 2020 World Triathlon Series Grand Final & World Championships.
Maybe the members of the IOC on the ITU decided it was an opportunity to get even with Canada. But the ITU had decided to delay until April 30 a decision to postpone Edmonton.
The day before the IOC did it’s about face, one of the most infuriated people in the entire world of sports was Edmonton organizing committee president Sheila O’Kelly.
“We don’t have four weeks!” she emphasized on the other end of the telephone.
Everybody and their dog knew it was too late to salvage the Olympics in Japan in July with the state of the world as a result of COVID-19, but the IOC decided to continue the cruel and unusual punishment of forcing athletes to train in their basements and contemplate going to an Olympics with their health in danger and the health of everybody involved in danger.
Well, here we go again.
The Edmonton organizing committee was relieved to see the IOC do the about turn because the Aug. 17-23 Edmonton event was tied to the Olympics and this allowed them to quickly follow and do the right thing. But the ITU is using the same set of blinders here.
Edmonton has a $12 million Grey Cup-sized budget to hold the event that not only will play host to the entire Olympic field but an additional 4,000 international age-group athletes from 70 nations from ages 8 to 80 and bring 7,000 visitors to the city.
But it’s reached the point, especially with the situation in the United States escalating by the day, that Canada isn’t likely to open that border anytime soon. With the situation in Europe, especially Italy and Spain, and with air travel dramatically reduced from anywhere to anywhere, this is not the time to play host to people from half the planet.
Edmonton, currently under self-isolation and semi-lockdown, isn’t going to want to welcome the world when a significant percentage of the world is contaminated.
The organization was hoping and expecting the ITU to postpone the event until 2021, as the IOC has done with the Olympics.
But Thursday evening in Madrid, of all places, the ITU voted to delay the decision and O’Kelly and the rest of the organizing committee were forced to spend the evening preparing the following statement:
“Under constant consultation with the ITU and local authorities, we are trying to bring clarity to many questions surrounding our event planned for August of this year,” it began. “With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games, the question is whether the Edmonton Grand Final will also be postponed into 2021. At this time, we are actively looking at this scenario for our event.
“Due to the scope of hosting a world championship and its entire triathlon ecosystem, we’ll ensure our stakeholders and partners continue to be heard as we are working tirelessly to bring peace of mind during these troublesome times. Our world is a different place right now and we recognize the reality facing our society.
“Athletes are no doubt thinking about travel, registration, training and countless other impacts. Volunteers and community partners will weight the risks of supporting a major event this summer.
“Please know we are committed to providing a safe, fun and exceptional world-class experience in every way for this Grand Final and for Edmonton.
“In the 20 years of hosting international triathlons in Edmonton, this is by far the most difficult situation we have faced. We’ve watched over these past few weeks countless races, colleagues and friends impacted by these extraordinary circumstances and our hearts go out to all those effected.
“The ITU will make a decision on the Edmonton Grand Final by April 30th.”
That’s about as a polite a middle finger in the air a local organizing committee can author.
But in case these dolts can’t read between the lines, allow me to make it perhaps slightly clearer:
WE DON’T WANT IT. NOT NOW.
Not under these circumstances. Not with the world population contagious. Not with our borders closed. Not with our population under self-isolation and personal distancing. And not with our triathletes and many of the athletes of the world in a sport that involves swimming, training in their basements.
Postpone it to next year and Edmonton will give you the best World Triathlon Series Grand Final & World Championships you’ve ever had.
On Twitter: @ByTerryJones
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020