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OUA and U Sports cancel all games and competitions amidst COVID-19 pandemic

In March, U Sports cancelled their hockey and volleyball national championships following university closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 8, U Sports decided to further cancel all six fall 2020 national championships.

“Although the Canadian sport system is working together to create evidence-based return to training, practice and competition protocols, it is not currently feasible or safe due to the COVID-19 pandemic for U Sports to be able to offer fall championships given the academic realities of student-sport,” said Dr. Taryn Taylor, the chief medical officer of U Sports, according to the U Sports website.

U Sports came to this decision after considering virtual learning methods, public health guidelines and travel restrictions. The board understands that students are financially limited and made a decision as early as possible to allow students to adequately prepare for the fall term, including adapting to virtual learning and signing housing leases. U Sports has also made a variety of changes regarding eligibility and financial awards for athletes. Eligibility will not be considered for championship sports this fall term, in which students being deemed ineligible previously will be able to participate in the 2021 sports championships. Scholarships will still be permitted as long as students abide by regulations set out by their institution and U Sports.

U Sports’ national championship cancellations include the men’s and women’s cross country running, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s field hockey, women’s rugby and men’s football. This also includes the cancellation of the prestigious Vanier Cup.

Immediately following U Sports’ decision, Ontario University Athletics released its statement cancelling all fall sports until Dec. 31, 2020. 

“The health of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, and fans is our number one priority, and after significant consultation, we believe that OUA sport cannot be delivered prior to December 31,” wrote Mike DeGagné in a press release, chair of the OUA board of directors.

“The health of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, and fans is our number one priority, and after significant consultation, we believe that OUA sport cannot be delivered prior to December 31,” wrote Mike DeGagné, chair of the OUA board of directors. 

OUA’s decision is mirrored by Atlantic University Sport, who has cancelled all competition until January 2021. Canada West cancelled all team sports competitions for the fall 2020 term but will still allow individual sports championships, namely swimming and golf, to occur safely following direction from their own COVID-19 Task Force. This contrasts OUA’s decision to exclude individual sports, which they based on travel requirements, medical support and close living spaces during the national championship period. With that being said, Canada West cancelled their cross country championships, where the task force believed that the “reduction of team complement, altered start, creating defined passing areas or hosting regional championships (one BC, one prairie) – would too significantly impact the integrity of the championships.”

On the other hand, the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec decided on Aug. 31, to continue school sports at the college and university level as of Sept. 14. Such accommodations will be regulated by the Ministère de l’Éducation, the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur and by Quebec’s public health guidelines.

Shawn Burt, director of athletics and recreation at McMaster University, released a statement providing support for the McMaster Marauders Athletes.

“McMaster currently sponsors 38 varsity teams across more than 20 sports, all of which will be affected by this cancellation. While the future is uncertain, the OUA remains hopeful that it can provide quality experiences for its student-athletes starting in the new year and will be closely monitoring the ongoing health considerations and viability for these opportunities over the coming months,” wrote Burt.

“McMaster currently sponsors 38 varsity teams across more than 20 sports, all of which will be affected by this cancellation. While the future is uncertain, the OUA remains hopeful that it can provide quality experiences for its student-athletes starting in the new year and will be closely monitoring the ongoing health considerations and viability for these opportunities over the coming months,” wrote Burt.

With the winter 2021 term being in-person as suggested by classroom allocations, it may be a possibility that university athletics and sports return for January 2021, while adhering to public health regulations. As gyms are recently opening and shutting down due to COVID-19 exposure, OUA is currently working alongside institutions on a safe plan to implement training while possibly re-implementing the cancelled championships for spring 2021.

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