Guinea cancelled its participation in the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the west African state’s sports minister announced.
However, a source close to the government in Conakry said that the decision not to send its five-person team was a consequence of financial constraints.
“Due to the resurgence of COVID-19 variants, the government, concerned with preserving the health of Guinean athletes, has decided with regret to cancel Guinea’s participation in the Tokyo Olympics,” Minister of Sports, Sanoussy Bantama Sow, wrote in a letter addressed to the president of the Guinean Olympic Committee that was seen by AFP.
A source insisted, however, that the decision, taken just two days out from the opening ceremony in Tokyo, was because the “the ministry cannot pay” the costs.
Guinean media also claimed the withdrawal was financial rather than health related for Guinea, which has never won a medal in 11 appearances at the Olympics.
The five-strong team comprised Fatoumata Yarie Camara (freestyle wrestling), Mamadou Samba Bah (judo), Fatoumata Lamarana Toure and Mamadou Tahirou Bah (swimming) and Aissata Deen Conte (athletics, women’s 100m).
North Korea announced in April that it would not participate in the Tokyo Olympics to “protect” its athletes from any risk linked to the coronavirus pandemic.