Tokyo 2020: Joe Clarke does not understand British Canoeing decision

Joe Clarke waiting to compete in canoeing at Rio 2016
Joe Clarke won K1 slalom gold at Rio 2016

Joe Clarke "does not understand" British Canoeing's decision after it confirmed the defending Olympic K1 slalom champion would remain out of the team for the postponed Tokyo Games.

The team selected in October 2019 will travel, despite Tokyo 2020 being moved because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clarke missed out on the Olympics after finishing behind Bradley Forbes-Cryans at the World Championships.

"I really don't understand it," Clarke, 27, told BBC Sport.

"Obviously there was a policy in place beforehand to select those athletes, that was all done by the book, but when the Olympics were postponed to 2021 there was no policy in place to keep those athletes in those spots.

"With such a big delay, those athletes who missed out fully expected there to be a re-selection, but unfortunately they haven't chosen to do that."

The Tokyo Olympics will now begin on 23 July 2021.

In addition to being the defending champion, Clarke also finished second in the world rankings in 2019.

He has spoken to other athletes who were hoping for re-selection, and together they are "looking at what the next steps may be".

Forbes-Cryans says it was "fantastic" to find out he would still be going to the Olympics, but felt the situation "could have been dealt with a bit more delicately".

He added: "I understand it from my fellow competitors' point of view.

"We are all highly competitive and want to be going to the Olympic Games but for me, a few people were trying to capitalise on these unfortunate events."

Liam Heath will attempt to defend his K1 200m title, while canoe slalom athletes Mallory Franklin, Kimberley Woods and Adam Burgess join Forbes-Cryans in making their Olympic debuts.

British Canoeing chief executive David Joy said: "Nothing has changed other than the date of the Games.

"The athletes were selected for the Olympic Games in Tokyo through a transparent and results-driven process and it is right that their selections should remain."

The body was asked by the British Olympic Association to “consider and confirm” that it still wanted to take the team nominated before the postponement.

British Sailing must also decide whether to take the team it announced in October 2019, and Team GB chef de mission Mark England said details of its decision "will be released in due course".