The Ontario University Athletics (OUA) association, in conjunction with U SPORTS, the national governing body of university sport in Canada, have announced the cancellation of all sanctioned sport programming and championship play, up to March 31, 2021.
This cancellation is not unexpected, considering the current COVID-19 climate across Canada. In June, all sports and championships for the fall term were cancelled with a similar announcement.
A statement from Queen’s Athletics and Recreation (A&R) declared that the decision was made with the health and safety of all participants at the forefront, and after considerable consultation with medical advisors, member institutions, national colleagues, and extensive contingency planning with the OUA Board.
“As difficult as this news is for our varsity community, it comes with the understanding that the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans must be our top priority. It is evident that a safe return to intercollegiate competition for the 2nd term is not feasible at this time. We will continue providing support services to student-athletes during this difficult time,” says Leslie Dal Cin, Executive Director, Queen’s Athletics & Recreation. “A&R has implemented comprehensive Facility Re-Opening, Return-to-Sport and Return-to-Activity plans, that are in alignment with provincial, public health, university and sport guidelines. These safety protocols and facility changes will allow us to continue to offer modified in-person training opportunities for varsity student-athletes.”
The cancellation of 2nd term competitive programing will apply to all varsity team and varsity club sport programs at Queen’s, including those that do not compete in the OUA and U SPORTS. Queen’s A&R say they will continue to work hard to deliver an engaging experience for student-athletes, and will continue to offer programming in alignment with Return to Sport plans, as submitted by the coaches and reviewed/approved by the Return to Sport Committee. They will also continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make required adjustments, as necessary, to ensure alignment with provincial, public health, University and sport sector guidelines.
At the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), the OUA’s decision affects the regular season and championships of the varsity hockey, volleyball, and fencing teams.
“While disappointing to be without sport for another term, I think this is the right course of action to best protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff, and wider community,” RMC Director of Athletics Darren Cates said. “I especially empathize with our graduating student-athletes right now. I know this is not the final year you imagined.”
Mid-October is usually the busiest season for the RMC Paladins. The soccer and rugby teams would still be competing in their fall seasons, volleyball and fencing would be preparing for their competition, and hockey would already have the first few regular season games under their belts. For now, any semblance of competition will have to wait.
“After significant consultation with our members and advisors, we have determined that OUA sport cannot be delivered prior to March 31st,” Chair of the OUA Board of Directors Dr. Deborah MacLatchy said. “We recognize how disappointing this is to many, especially our student-athletes, but these are unprecedented times.”
Unlike its decision regarding fall competition, the OUA has granted its member institutions the ability to determine involvement in exhibition play for all sports, effective January 1, 2021, in accordance with regional public health guidelines and sport-specific return to train policies, according to a release from RMC, dated Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020.
“A decision like this is never easy to make,” OUA President and CEO Gord Grace said. “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.”
RMC’s recreation and competitive clubs, who are not sanctioned OUA teams, are permitted to continue their return to train processes, but will also be without competition this winter.
For more details, read the complete statements from the conference offices:
U SPORTS Statement: