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Sports cancelled for college and university students

OUA and OCAA sports such as hockey have been cancelled for the winter term. (Photo courtesy of Ontario Tech Athletics)

There will officially be no college or university sports this school year due to COVID-19.

Ontario College Athletics Association (OCAA) and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) varsity sports competition planned for the 2021 winter semester have been cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the sport restrictions that are in place in Ontario.

Sports affected by the cancelation of the 2021 OUA winter term include hockey, basketball, curling, and dance.

“Similar to when a decision was made in June about the fall seasons, this announcement is heartbreaking as everyone would love to get back to competition,” says Ontario Tech athletic director Scott Barker. “The safety of our student-athletes comes first and we support the tough decision made by the OUA board of directors. We are hopeful for a return to competition in the fall of 2021.”

Unlike its decision regarding fall competition, the OUA has granted its member institutions the autonomy to determine involvement in exhibition play, effective Jan. 1, 2021, in accordance with regional public health guidelines and sport-specific return to train policies.

“A decision like this is never easy to make,” says OUA president and CEO Gord Grace. “To continue to uphold the health and safety of all participants, however, it remains a necessary step to take, and I commend the OUA board of directors for their work and decision-making throughout this process.”

Varsity sports on the OCAA winter schedule which have been cancelled include badminton, basketball, curling, indoor soccer and volleyball.

“The health of the entire OCAA membership and our participants remains our top priority, and we empathize, understand, and share the deep disappointment this especially causes for our winter sport student-athletes,” says OCAA President Nathan McFadden.

McFadden says after extensive contingency planning and collaboration with members, there are far too many obstacles to allow the OCAA to operate while providing a safe and quality varsity experience for student-athletes.

The OCAA made this decision based on a number of factors. This includes the restrictive measures in place by the provincial sport regulatory bodies as well as orders from Public Health, which do not allow for regular sanctioned competition to take place for a provincial sports conference.

Additionally, the decision to cancel is due to the members continued provision of a hybrid academic delivery model for the 2021 winter semester, thereby minimizing the number of students and staff on campuses in order to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

“The OCAA will return stronger from this due to our current strategic initiatives that are already underway,” says McFadden. “The future viability of our sports are going to be more important than ever before to enhancing the post-secondary educational experience and we look forward to uniting our student-athletes, campuses and communities together in sport.”