Swimming Canada released a brief statement on Wednesday addressing the current COVID-19 restrictions imposed around the country, and specifically in Ontario, and how they could potentially impact next month’s Olympic Trials.
Originally scheduled for early April, the Canadian Olympic Trials were moved back to May 24-28 in January, set to take place at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. There is also a High Performance Test Event scheduled for May 7-8 at the same pool.
A stay-at-home order was imposed by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on April 8, and he’s since announced it will be extended through May 20 as the province experiences a record-high in cases.
Swimming Canada says both the Test Event and Trials have been planned for months to be held safely in a lockdown scenario, “including a comprehensive safety plan, with strong protocols including limited participant numbers, separate entry-exit protocols, masks, distancing and cleaning to ensure a safe competitive environment in and around the pool.”
“We have developed robust safety protocols to deliver an event that will allow us to safely choose the best teams to represent Canada at the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi.
“We are aware of the recent media reports regarding the situation in Ontario and other provinces, and we recognize the uncertainty this creates for all the participants across Canada. We are receiving feedback and questions from people across our swimming and sport community. We understand the concerns and we are seeking more information to make the best decisions possible.”
The organization is currently in contact with its government and sport partners and will provide more information when details become available.
“As an athlete, I understand the preparation and focus that goes into an Olympic and Paralympic Trials,” said President Cheryl Gibson, a 1976 Olympic medalist in the women’s 400 IM.
“As an organization, we have to ensure we can run an event that puts health and safety first. The board of Swimming Canada has challenged management to do this to the best of its ability. This past year has required us to be more adaptable than ever, and we will continue to adapt as additional information becomes available and as circumstances change.”