There might be no Canadian college winter nationwide championships this 12 months as a result of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

U Sports activities introduced Thursday the cancellation of the 2021 winter nationwide championships in males’s and girls’s basketball, hockey, swimming, monitor and discipline, volleyball and wrestling. 

The information follows June’s resolution to cancel six fall nationwide championships, together with the flagship Vanier Cup. Curling Canada beforehand introduced the suspension of the 2021 college championships. The choice got here with unanimous assist of U Sports activities’ board of administrators and the 4 college sports activities conferences: Atlantic College Sport, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, Ontario College Athletics and Canada West. 

“Following consultations with the 4 conferences, we agreed that student-athlete security stays our high precedence,” mentioned Dick White, the interim chief govt officer of U Sports activities. “It isn’t logistically potential for groups to be travelling throughout the nation right now.” 

The chief medical officer for U Sports activities, Dr. Taryn Taylor, added that with the variety of instances rising throughout the second wave of COVID-19 and with out an obtainable vaccine, it is really helpful that on-going sports activities restrictions keep in place for the well being and security of pupil athletes. 

No championship awarded

It is the primary time within the trendy historical past of U Sports activities since 1961, that no Canadian college nationwide championships might be awarded. 

The one earlier cancellations — outdoors of final March’s cancellation of the boys’s and girls’s hockey and volleyball championships — got here throughout the conflict years of 1915-19 and 1940-45 when the Queen’s Cup (males’s hockey) and Wilson Cup (males’s basketball) weren’t contested. At the moment, solely universities in Ontario and Quebec have been a part of the group.

It is heartbreaking information for the almost 20,000 pupil athletes and coaches from 56 faculties coast-to-coast-to-coast. Outdoors of creating a nationwide or Olympic group, the U Sports activities nationwide championships are the best stage of sport on this nation. 

“We wished to take issues one step at a time. That is an unprecedented scenario. We hoped that issues would change, {that a} vaccine could be discovered or there was a way we may nonetheless maintain them,” mentioned Lisette Johnson-Stapley, chief sport officer for U Sports activities. 

“We provide 9 winter championships in 9 completely different components of the nation. Our host committees are going through quite a lot of challenges as a consequence of COVID-19, together with journey restrictions and limits on public indoor gatherings that influence planning.” 

There have been many layers for U Sports activities to cope with throughout this pandemic. Geography is likely one of the largest. Canada West, which covers B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and AUS, which covers the Atlantic provinces, have 4 provincial boundaries to contemplate, to not point out evolving public well being restrictions round COVID-19. As an example, people travelling into the Atlantic bubble or Manitoba should self-isolate for 14 days. The conferences in Ontario and Quebec have faculties within the centre of rising numbers of COVID-19 instances. 

UNB Reds captain Marcus McIvor, centre, celebrates a hockey title together with his teammates on March 17, 2019. (Rob Olson/Canadian Press)

Digital programs

There’s additionally been the educational piece to contemplate. Many universities are conducting their programs nearly, whereas others are providing a blended mannequin of on-campus and distant studying. 

“Timing was vital for us with this resolution,” Johnson Stapley mentioned. “Some pupil athletes need to know if they need to keep for the time period or not. It is completely different throughout the nation. You have acquired some faculties the place all of the athletes are again and you have got some that are not. You bought some universities that have not even opened recreation services.” 

There’s a silver lining in that pupil athletes is not going to lose a 12 months of their 5 years of taking part in eligibility, even when they’re able to prepare or play video games inside their convention. Athlete eligibility is on the forefront of all of U Sports activities resolution making, Johnson Stapley mentioned. 

“It is the most important influence. Our board accredited a suggestion this summer season that if there isn’t any pathway or nationwide championship, then we would not be charging eligibility. That is normal throughout the board.” 

Earlier this summer season, U Sports activities additionally granted a one-year exception to its age rule for soccer. Beforehand, gamers who turned 25 earlier than Sept. 1 could be ineligible to play. 

U Sports activities will announce its up to date occasion internet hosting rotation earlier than the tip of the 12 months.

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