Athletics Canada

With the health and safety of our athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers in mind, Athletics Canada has withdrawn the team of five athletes who were going to represent Canada at the 2020 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland this weekend.

Poland has recently seen sharp increases in cases of COVID-19. After a long and detailed internal discussion, Athletics Canada has decided not to send a team. There are significant and increasing COVID related risks to attending this event, as an organization we simply cannot justify putting our athletes, coaches and staff in harm’s way.

Justin Kent from Harry Jerome Track Classic was one of the three men named to the team. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

“This was a very difficult decision, but we think it is in the best interests of the athletes and the team staff,” said Simon Nathan, Athletics Canada’s High Performance Director. “We know that this is disappointing news, but we have made this decision with our team’s health and safety at heart.”

Athletics Canada is confident that World Athletics and the Local Organizing Committee were doing everything possible to protect participants. Unfortunately, we saw too many risks that nobody could be expected to control.

“When we considered the risks associated with flying and transfers within airports, with the athletes being in publicly-accessed common areas like hotel lobbies and common dining areas, and the unknown of individuals’ compliance to safe protocols, we felt it was prudent not to expose our team to those risks,” said Dr. Paddy McCluskey, Athletics Canada’s Chief Medical Officer.

The event had originally been scheduled for March 29 but was rescheduled to October 17.

Rachel Cliff
Rachel Cliff at Canadian Championships. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

Canada was to be represented by athletes Rachel Cliff, Justin Kent, Ben Preisner, Philippe Parrot-Migas and Thomas Toth. Trevor Hofbauer had been named to the team but withdrew due to injury.