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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020

June 23, 2021

Honourable senators, glory is not restricted by age, history, experience, orientation or even a birth certificate. It can come from anywhere and everywhere. It belongs to those who go beyond borders, overcome obstacles and defy expectations. Inside all of us lives the potential for glory.

Today, I wish to remind about two important events coming this summer, the Olympics and Paralympics. As I speak, there are still athletes trying to qualify, and a leadership team is on their way to ensure conditions are optimal for Team Canada.

Over a year ago, it was our athletes who pushed the pause button on having the games. They wanted their families to be safe, while following the rules of Health Canada. Athletes returned to Canada and tried to be creative about training while missing over 170 international competitions. Families tried to shift and keep healthy and strong as the rules of the game changed by the hour and the day, all while trying to achieve their best qualifying performances.

A few words from one of our young athletes Brian Yang:

Qualifying for the Olympics for the first time this year is simply mind-blowing! Going through the long journey, 24 months, to qualify, all during the pandemic, makes the Tokyo Olympics extremely special. Now, being able to compete on the largest stage and competing around and with the world’s greatest athletes makes me feel excited and proud to be representing Canada.

Senators, on this Team Canada, there is only one rowing boat with a coxswain, the tiny but mighty person who is the boss of the boat, steers, sets the oar rate and shouts orders from the start to the finish line. This year Kristen Kit will cox the women’s eight boat at her first Olympic Games. Kit won a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the mixed coxed four event.

In Tokyo, she will be the second Canadian summer athlete to compete in both the Olympics and the Paralympic Games. Who was the first? None other than the Honourable Senator Petitclerc. She raced to gold in the 2004 Olympic Games during the para-demonstration event in Athens. With my athletes at my side in Athens, we watched this. I was so inspired, and I’m proud to say this August will be the first time athletes from my sport will compete in the Paralympic Games.

We also have coaches leading our athletes who, only a few years ago, were new Canadians learning to speak English. Now, they will proudly wear the Maple Leaf.

While it would be foolish to think that everything will go exactly as planned, we can take comfort in the knowledge that the Tokyo games will be the most organized and safest games ever planned. There is global optimism that these games will do exactly what is intended: bring the world together to celebrate the accomplishments of their athletes in an environment of unity, camaraderie and respect.

Colleagues, there is no better time to come together to support our Olympians and Paralympians. The absence of parents, grandparents, girlfriends, husbands and children will be profound. The testing, quarantine, and protocols are overwhelming, so we need all of you cheering for Team Canada — your athletes. Shout loudly, learn the stories and help Canada unite, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, from coast to coast to coast.

Finally, senators, recently you were invited to make a video clip to wish our athletes and Team Canada the best. Please consider participating. Thank you. Meegwetch.

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