Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, expressed concern about whether the Beijing Games can be held as planned in February.Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

With just over a month until the Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) said he is increasingly concerned if the Games can go ahead as planned.

“We’re worried,” COC CEO David Shoemaker told the CBC in a New Year’s eve interview. “We’re confident that these Games can still be scheduled safely.

“But we’re taking it day by day and wake up every morning to make sure that is how we still feel about it.”

The National Hockey League (NHL) last month said it would not send players to the men’s ice hockey tournament, citing the pandemic’s “profound disruption” to its schedule.

Canada joins allies in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

As of Saturday, the NHL had postponed 90 games for COVID-19 related reasons.

Other winter sports have also experienced disruptions to events that serve as Olympic qualifiers, including alpine skiing, bobsleigh and curling.

Shoemaker said that if the COC believes athlete safety is compromised, it will not hesitate to pull the plug on Beijing as it did in March, 2020, when they decided not to send a team to the Tokyo Summer Olympics if they were to go ahead as scheduled.

The Tokyo Games were later delayed for one year.

“We have yet to have a conversation with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) about postponement but we’re having conversations on a very frequent basis with the participating winter sport nations and it may well come up,” said Shoemaker.

The greatest concern currently for the COC is getting athletes into the Beijing bubble without testing positive for COVID-19 and face three-to-five weeks quarantine in China.

“Medical experts agree, and the consensus point of view is that it may well be that the safest place from Omicron in February will be the Olympic bubble in Beijing,” said Shoemaker.

“The real challenge for us over the next 30 days is how do we make sure that Canadian participants can get to Beijing without contracting the virus and therefore become able to test negative to get into that scenario.”

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe