Australian race-walker Dane Bird-Smith won’t be participating in the athletics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with the Australian Olympic Committee announcing his withdrawal due to family medical reasons.
The 2016 Rio bronze medallist, Bird-Smith and his teammates had been undergoing Olympic preparation in Cairns however up until this evening however he will now be returning to Brisbane.
Bird-Smith confirmed he was looking forward to representing Australia at the Olympics and felt ready to perform but ultimately, even after the challenges of the past year, emerged new obstacles.
“Unfortunately, there have been twists and turns over the last year that all Olympians have had to face. For me, that includes family health challenges that have become a priority,” Bird-Smith said.
“Couple these challenges with difficult travel restrictions around the COVID pandemic, I have made the decision to stay in Australia with my family and withdraw myself from the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo.
“This is a tough decision as an athlete, but it is a decision that will see my desire to compete and win for Australia strongly continue next year and onwards. I will be watching on from home, cheering with my family and wish the rest of the Australian Team all the very best.”
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The Australian Olympic Team’s Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said he understood the difficult decision Bird-Smith had to make and lent his full support to the 29-year-old.
“We’re disappointed for Dane, but he has made the right decision,” Chesterman said.
“These are difficult circumstances for him and we wish Dane and his family all the very best. We would also request his privacy be respected.”
There was a contingent of 25 Australian athletics competitors who departed Cairns for Tokyo earlier this evening, scheduled to arrive in the early hours of Monday morning.
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