Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic committees called on organisers and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year.
“We offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring,” the committees said in a statement.
“While we recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community.”
While Canada is the first country to say it will not send a delegation to compete in the summer of 2020, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said on Monday its athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Games taking place in 2021.
“The AOC believes our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their National Federations,” the AOC said in a statement.
Canada’s Olympic Committee said it reviewed the IOC’s assessment of the situation and applauded it for recognising the need to consider alternate scenarios for hosting the Games.
On Friday, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said it was up to Canadian athletes to decide on going to Tokyo even if the Games went ahead.
Canada’s boycott will add to growing pressure on the IOC to alter the schedule after criticism from a slew of current and former athletes with health concerns.
“YESSSSSS CANADA!!!!!!! pulls out of OLYMPICS UNLESS IOC POSTPONE!!!,” tweeted US hurdler Lolo Jones.
“OUR HEALTH IS MORE important than sport. Hopefully the UNITED STATES is next.” The US Olympic Committee said it would not comment on Canada’s decision.