Six-time Canadian Olympian and International Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission member Hayley Wickenheiser has called for medical experts to be the sole arbiters of whether the Tokyo Games go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported Friday.
The four-time Olympic women's ice hockey gold medalist, who is training to be a doctor, has been outspoken on the issue since last year.
In March last year, she tweeted her opposition to holding the games just days before the Canadian National Olympic Committee announced it would not send a team to Tokyo. The IOC and Japanese organizers soon after decided on the one-year postponement of the games.
"Prior to the pandemic I said there's no way the Olympics can go ahead because history told us there was no way they could. And now I'm saying I don't know, I wonder if they can again," Wickenheiser told CBC Sports.
"This decision needs to be made by medical and health experts, not by corporate and big business."
"It's very hard after what I've witnessed this past year (to) then think about the games. I've seen such suffering."
Wickenheiser said the IOC and athletes like herself, who would "go at any cost," were too invested in the games to make the decision.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday renewed his pledge that the games will be "safe and secure," while Tokyo Games organizing chief Seiko Hashimoto said cancellation is not being considered despite the resurgence of infections in the capital.
Wickenheiser expressed concern about the situation facing medical workers in Japan, where polls have consistently shown a majority of the public opposed to holding the games this summer.
"This is someone's country we're going into. These are real people living in crisis. We have to be sensitive to the needs of a nation," she said.