Celebrating Canada Day, Team Canada and you.

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Happy Canada Day!

It’s July 1, 2020.  In any other Olympic year, we would be counting down the next 24 days with laser focus. You would be in your prime: ready. Team Canada would be pumped. But here we are – your preparation and performance on hold and the Maple Leaf that you so proudly wear in competition around the world remains tucked away, for now.

Even so, it’s never been more important for you to feel the strength and support that comes from being Canadian and part of Team Canada. There is the strength and support that you contribute to Team Canada and the strength and support that you receive from being one of its members. As Canadians, we embrace diversity, inclusion and community values. Together we are like individual threads that wind together to create the strength of a cable; collectively the strengths of some support others.

As a young athlete, I realized that I’d developed a deep connection to our flag. For so long it epitomized my dreams. I admit, I talked to it – sharing my ambitions and fears. In training, it kept me motivated and in competition, it kept me calm and focused.  

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Today is today. Make it a good one!

For a novel virus – it certainly feels like the novelty has worn off. I’d love to be saying, “way to go!”, that after 50+ days we’re almost done… but, as our collective actions continue to save tens of thousands of Canadian lives, we just don’t know when or how our stay-at-home advisories will be lifted. 

It may feel that your 2020 plans are on hold or even squashed entirely – they aren’t; but you will need to adapt them to fit 2021. I can imagine that all of this waiting-to-start is not easy; on your body or your brain, you have never trained to wait. (I have often said that waiting to race was way more stressful than actually racing.)   

Recently, Canadian Space Astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield spoke to a group of carded athletes about managing uncertainty. One of the first things he suggested was that we need to accept the new place that we are in, and more to the point, the new place YOU are in. Once you are over the shock that the plan that you had has changed; be it a mental plan, physical plan, or action plan – you need to accept that things have changed, that you are in a new place AND that you need to move forward. 

But how do you do that when your long-term planning is stalled? 

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Game ON! Seize the opportunity. Reconnect with play.

A countdown clock displays the remaining days until the new start date for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The opening ceremony will be held July 23, 2021 after this year’s Games was postponed last week due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

“And the clock is reset: when 116 days becomes 480. #Tokyo2020NE!”

– Yesterday’s tweet from Rosie MacLennan, two time Olympic Champion

So now we know when. The Tokyo Olympic Games have officially been rescheduled for July 23 – August  8, 2021. These Games will officially be known as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games… but I’m a fan of the meme “Tokyo 202ONE”! (apologies that this doesn’t translate well).

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Over the last week (has it only been 1 week?!) there have been many thoughtful interviews, social media and blog posts by Olympians; Olympic hopefuls, veterans and retired. It’s been a roller coaster. You’ve all expressed your heartfelt emotions; utter disappointment, anger, resilience, relief and through it all – understanding. You have all understood that as part of our bigger Team Canada, 37 million strong, we all need to be part of flattening the curve. 

“Instead of pushing back on what life has brought on all of us, I made the commitment to accept what is and cherish what lies ahead. Training is what keeps me focused and what makes me feel alive. I have found a way to stay in shape at a slower pace in the comfort of my home. Right now, that’s all I need.”

Jennifer Abel, Olympic Bronze Medalist, three-time Olympian in Diving

World Champion swimmer, Maggie MacNeil finds herself back in her parents’ (now heated!) backyard pool and posted “To the little pool that got me into swimming… now it’s helping to keep the dream alive during this crazy time”

Same for Sage Watson, Olympian in 400m hurdles, who is back on a family ranch in Medicine Hat. “This is where I first started running when I was 6 years old and it’s so fitting that I’m continuing my Olympic goals here at home.”

Lately, your creativity and humour are also shining through. 

Softball player Emma Carr has taken to bench pressing her sofa and Skylar Park, who has qualified for her first Olympics in Taekwondo, has her three brothers to use as sparring partners in her basement! Another athlete headed to his first Olympics, Sport Climber Sean McColl, has taken to posting a #dailychallenge – his push-ups done on cutting boards come with a warning! Olympic Champion in Big Air Snowboard and two-time Olympian, Sebastien Toutant’s posts seem to have inspired skateboarder Annie Guglia to have fun working on her in-home balance and agility.

As time passes this won’t be easy. The novelty of being creative and training in isolation will wear off. All of you face unique challenges in trying to stay in the world-class shape that you’ve worked so hard for. Facilities are scarce, to say the least, but there is an opportunity here. Reconnect with the joy and play that lit your fire for your sport.

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Tokyo 2020 postponed to 2021 // Tokyo 2020 reporté à 2021

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In a move that was highly anticipated, the Tokyo 2020 Games have been postponed. We appreciate and are thankful that the IOC quickly clarified their position on protecting the health and safety of athletes and their communities.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

… It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. “


This is the best news we could have hoped for given the circumstances.

Our understanding is that qualifications stand and we will request that be officially confirmed. For those who were expecting opportunities to qualify this spring/summer, your NSO and IF will determine and communicate to you what the new process to qualify will be. Please be patient. There remain many logistical elements to work out, but we should appreciate this clarity – you do not need to be ready to compete this summer. Follow the direction of our Federal and Provincial leaders – stay home, practice social distancing – flatten the curve.

I think as a team we can be extraordinarily proud of how we – how you – stood united in the last two days. The announcement that we made just 36 hours ago that Team Canada would not attend a July 2020 Olympic Games was shocking to all. I respect that many of your reactions were visceral and yet – each of you followed up your comments of disappointment and heartache with understanding. Thank you. It is incredible to watch a team come together like that. At this time, the health and safety of our communities comes first.

When the infection rate of COVID-19 has come down to a safe level for sport to resume, when you get to train properly and then compete with the maple leaf on your chest – the Olympic and Paralympic Games will once again be seen as a symbol of hope. Tokyo 2020 will be a celebration of all that we now seek to overcome. There may be no better way to move on from this most difficult time than seeing the world brought together through sport the way only an Olympic Games can. 

More information will come from your National Sport Organization and the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Postpone today, conquer tomorrow. We are all Team Canada.

C-A 👏👏 N-A 👏👏 D-A 👏👏 Let’s Go Canada!!  


Marnie McBean OC OLY
Chef de Mission Team Canada Tokyo 2020

Grâce à une décision qui était fort attendue, les Jeux olympiques de Tokyo 2020 ont été reportés. Nous sommes reconnaissants que le CIO ait rapidement clarifié sa position sur la protection de la santé et la sécurité des athlètes et de leurs communautés.

« Dans les circonstances actuelles et sur la base d’informations produites aujourd’hui par l’OMS, le président du CIO et le premier ministre du Japon ont conclu que les Jeux de la XXXIIe Olympiade à Tokyo doivent être reportés à une date au-delà de l’année 2020, mais pas plus tard qu’à l’été 2021, afin de protéger la santé des athlètes, de tous ceux impliqués aux Jeux olympiques et de la population mondiale. 

… Il est aussi entendu que les Jeux garderont le nom de Jeux olympiques et paralympiques de Tokyo 2020. »


C’est la meilleure nouvelle que nous pouvions espérer dans les circonstances.

Notre compréhension est que les qualifications seront respectées et nous demanderons que cela soit officiellement confirmé. Pour ceux qui s’attendaient à profiter d’occasions de se qualifier ce printemps et cet été, votre ONS et votre FI détermineront le nouveau processus de qualification et ils vous le communiqueront. Veuillez être patients. Il reste évidemment beaucoup d’éléments de logistiques à régler, mais nous devrions être reconnaissants pour la plus grande clarté dont nous profitons. Vous n’avez plus à vous préparer pour concourir aux Jeux cet été. Suivez les directives de vos responsables fédéraux et provinciaux, restez à la maison, pratiquez la distanciation sociale et contribuez à aplanir la courbe de propagation de cette maladie.

Je crois comme équipe que nous pouvons être extrêmement fiers de comment vous et nous avons été unis au cours des deux dernières journées. L’annonce que nous avons fait il y a seulement 36 heures qu’Équipe Canada ne participerait pas à des Jeux olympiques en juillet 2020 a provoqué une onde de choc qui nous a tous touchés. Je respecte que plusieurs de vos réactions ont été viscérales et que, malgré tout, chacun de vous a fait suivre ses commentaires de déceptions et son expression de déchirement par des mots de compréhension. Merci. Il est incroyable de voir une équipe se réunir comme cela. À ce moment précis, la santé et la sécurité de nos collectivités passent avant tout.

Quand le taux d’infection de la COVID-19 redescendra à un niveau sécuritaire permettant la reprise des activités sportives, quand vous aurez l’occasion de vous entraîner adéquatement et de concourir avec la feuille d’érable sur votre uniforme – les Jeux olympiques et paralympiques seront une fois de plus vus comme un symbole d’espoir. Tokyo 2020 sera une célébration de notre victoire sur tout ce que nous cherchons maintenant à surmonter.  Il n’existe possiblement pas de meilleur moyen de tourner la page sur la période très difficile que nous traversons actuellement que de réunir le monde entier autour du sport comme seuls les Jeux parviennent à le faire.

Plus d’informations suivront de votre organisme national de sport et du Comité olympique canadien.

Reporter aujourd’hui, triompher demain. Nous sommes tous Équipe Canada

C-A 👏👏 N-A 👏👏 D-A 👏👏 Let’s Go Canada!!  


Marnie McBean OC OLY
Chef de Mission Team Canada Tokyo 2020