MIAMI – For the second consecutive year, it looks like an Olympic dream deferred for Miami Heat center Kelly Olynyk, a result of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics possibly being postponed due to the new coronavirus pandemic, a move International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound cited Monday.
For Olynyk, the former Gonzaga standout, it is a particularly difficult blow.
After sustaining a knee injury last August while training with Canada’s national team for the World Cup, Olynyk was denied the opportunity to compete in the event that served as a qualifier for the 2020 Games.
With Canada’s placement in that event in China failing to produce an Olympic berth, Olynyk, 28, had been hopeful of participating in a June last-chance, winner-take-all qualifier in British Columbia that could have produced a spot for Canada at the Games.
But even before Monday’s word of potential postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the Canadian Olympic Committee on Sunday announced it would bypass sending a delegation.
Despite the injury that limited Olynyk at the start of the Heat’s season and led to a reduction in playing time, the 6-foot-11 Toronto native had been hopeful of returning to his national team.
“If I’m healthy and available, I’m going to play,” he said earlier this season. “It’s been my goal to go to the Olympics since I was a little kid. That’s something that’s still a goal of mine.”
Olynyk had regained a role in the Heat rotation in the wake of the ankle injury that sidelined center Meyers Leonard, with his lone six starts of the season coming since Feb. 5.
Among Olynyk’s concerns about the scheduling of June’s last-chance qualifier, had it been held, was the timing of his player option, with a decision needed on his $13.2 million Heat player option for 2020-21 by June 29. Based on the NBA’s economic climate amid the current shutdown and the lack of cap space previously anticipated around the league, opting in for a return to the Heat would appear likely.
Now, if the Games are instead conducted in 2021, and the last-chance qualification tournament is moved to June 2021, such offseason participation next year could come amid an Olynyk return to free agency.
Canada has not qualified in men’s basketball at the Olympics since a seventh-place finish in the 2000 Games.
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