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Canadian Olympian unfazed by COVID-19 ahead of Tokyo Games

Last Updated Feb 21, 2020 at 12:02 pm PDT

Olympic racewalker Evan Dunfee feels the Games are still so far away, there's no reason to be overly anxious. (Photo courtesy Evan Dunfee)
Summary

Olympian Evan Dunfee feels the Games are still so far away, there's no reason to be overly anxious

He's confident the Canadian contingent and medical team will act in the best interest of athletes

Olympic organizers have insisted, at this point, that cancelling or postponing the Games is not going to happen

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – As the new coronavirus shows no signs of slowing down, you may be wondering how Canadian athletes gearing up for the Tokyo Games are feeling.

Olympian Evan Dunfee, a racewalker from Richmond, isn’t overly concerned — at least not yet. The 29-year-old feels the Games are still so far away, there’s no reason to be overly anxious. But he is hoping the virus is under control by the opening ceremony on July 24.

He’s confident the Canadian contingent and medical team will act in the best interest of athletes and if there’s a concern — action will be taken.

“No one knows what’s going to be happening in July. I have full trust in our medical team to make that decision for us … I’ll happily listen to them and there’s been no concern yet, we haven’t had any communication from the Canadian Olympic Committee to say there is something they’re concerned about. I’m not worried.”

He says when he’s packing his bags to head to Japan and if the virus is still of concern, he won’t be packing any face masks.

“The masks are pretty useless, but definitely [hand] sanitizer. Maybe this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise that we’re actually not competing in Tokyo with the racewalks and the marathon having been moved to Sapporo, we’re going to be pretty isolated anyway.”

Dunfee says preparing for a major event can take a toll on the body before and after so he and hundreds of other athletes will be taking some precautions.

“We definitely look at just coming in sooner to the race and limit the time we spend in crowded areas before the race. There are lots of actions we can take to put ourselves in the best possible position.”

He says will be think about leaving prior to the closing ceremony, should the virus still be racking up numbers the way it is now.

“If things are still the way they are now, I’d probably really consider just coming in and coming out, especially after a 50-km race walk, your body is pretty deteriorated and my immune system is usually pretty compromised anyway. So, even though I’m in my late 20s and fairly healthy, I think after an endeavour like a 50-km race walk, I could be fairly compromised and I would maybe take actions to put my health first.”

Dunfee doesn’t have any health conditions that would put him at greater risk of struggling to fight the virus if he contracted it.

“Post-50-km race walk, I usually do because you put so much into the race and you’ve kind of drained yourself. Usually, there are a few days where my body is definitely feeling compromised.”

He thinks in the next week or so, athletes will hear from the Athletics Canada medical team and the Canadian Olympic Committee medical team to communicate where things are at and any action that may be taken by doctors to ensure everyone is safe.

“We are so well taken care of with our medical team that none of the athletes should have any concerns, if they give us the go-ahead because they’re going to put our health first and foremost. The International Olympic Committee is not going to put our health first and foremost, that’s been pretty clear. [It’s] going to put money first. The IOC is going to everything possible to make the Olympics go ahead, so you can’t really take too much stock in what they say but I know our medical team — it’s their duty to put our health first and they’ll make decisions that are best for us so they’re really who we’ll be listening to.”

Olympic organizers have insisted, at this point, that cancelling or postponing the Games is not going to happen and not even on the table for discussion.

Globally, more than 76,000 people have been infected in 27 countries, and more than 2,200 have died.

There have been six people in BC infected, the latest being a woman in her 30s who recently travelled back to the province from Iran.