Federal government approves training bubbles for Canada's Olympic athletes

Rosannagh Maclennan carries the flag of Canada during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. (Matt Slocum/AP)

The federal government has approved a national interest exemption for Canada's Olympic athletes, allowing them to use modified quarantine training bubbles in preparation for the Tokyo games, according to a statement from minister of immigration Marco Mendicino.

The training bubbles plan, which was submitted by Canadian Olympic & Paralympic Committees and Own the Podium, includes several measures aimed at ensuring the safety of athletes, coaches and the public.

Across the country, four training bubbles will be established. Upon arrival, all athletes and staff are to undergo testing for COVID-19 and stay at a government-authorized accommodation while awaiting results. When negative results are received, athletes and staff will be confined to a modified quarantine bubble, and will be restricted to their accommodation and training facilities.

Subsequent testing will occur at regular intervals.

Olympic personnel will not be permitted to leave these two locations and interaction with the general public will not be allowed. In each training bubble, there will be a compliance officer tasked with ensuring rules are followed.

Anyone who breaches the rules will have their exemptions revoked, be removed from training and must complete a standard 14-day quarantine. There is also a possibility for fines or prosecution under the Quarantine Act, according to Mendicino's statement.

This new exception was approved by public health officials from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta and had consultation from local health authorities as well. Depending on the public health situation, the exemption may be rescinded or could have its conditions updated at any time.

Earlier this week, Ontario accelerated its return-to-play plan for professional and elite amateur leagues as the province continues to loosen its COVID-19 restrictions.

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