The following news post was published by Athletics Canada on Feb 9, 2023. Athletics Manitoba is certainly disappointed by this news, but understands and supports the decision based on the reasoning presented. In addition to the travel risks, a cost of $8,000 – $12,000 per athlete would have been an extraordinary barrier to participation for many deserving athletes.
Athletics Canada has made the decision to not field a team for the 2023 FISU Summer World University Games to be held in Chengdu, China. The decision was ratified by the National Team Committee which approves competitions to which Athletics Canada sends representative teams.
The decision was primarily based on financial burden and location of the event. U SPORTS does not financially contribute to sending a delegation to the FISU Games, costs are passed along to the respective national sport organizations. The estimated cost from U SPORTS was $8,000 to $12,000 per athlete and staff member to attend this competition, making it our most expensive team in the quadrennial by a significant margin. Athletics Canada does not have the necessary discretionary funding to support this team, nor do we feel it appropriate to pass these significant costs along to athletes.
The decision was also based on the adverse public health situation in China. The ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in the country have already proven prohibitive enough to force the postponement of the 2023 World Indoor Championships in Nanjing to 2025.
Currently, the Government of Canada Travel Advisory currently warns that the number of COVID-19 cases in China are increasing. More worrisome is that travelers to China should expect entry and exit controls for cities and towns, isolation requirements following travel, and restrictions on freedom of movement. Travelers would also be subject to mandatory quarantine in a local government facility following a positive test, with the consulate of Canada having extremely limited ability to intervene. For those reasons and given that neither FISU or U SPORTS have published any additional information on COVID-19 mitigation protocols, the National Team Committee ruled that sending a team would not be prudent.
Last year, U SPORTS did not send a Canadian delegation to the FISU Games, which were also to take place in Chengdu but were later canceled, citing scheduling, financial, and health implications. This year’s FISU Games take place July 28 to August 8, 2023. U SPORTS is expected to announce by mid-February if it will be fielding a delegation to the Games.