By Will Baldwin
All Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference-sanctioned sport programming is cancelled until March 31, 2021, the OUA announced today. The announcement comes in conjunction with U Sports, the national governing body of university sports in Canada, who announced the cancellation of all winter 2021 semester national championships Thursday afternoon.
According to the OUA’s official statement, the decision came under the direction of the board of directors and was “based on provincial public health guidelines and with the health and well-being of all OUA participants at the forefront.”
OUA sports were initially cancelled in the fall semester up until Dec. 31.
Deborah MacLatchy, chair of the OUA board of directors, said the board’s decision came down to the health and well-being of all involved with OUA sports.
“The health of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and fans remains OUA’s number one priority,” said MacLatchy in a statement published on the Ryerson Athletics website. “After significant consultation with our members and advisors, we have determined that OUA sport cannot be delivered prior to March 31. We recognize how disappointing this is to many, especially our student-athletes, but these are unprecedented times.”
For U Sports as a whole, the challenge of finding a way for teams to travel across the country safely was ultimately too much to overcome.
“Following consultations with the four conferences, we agreed that student-athlete safety remains our top priority,” said Dick White, U Sports interim chief executive officer. “It is not logistically possible for teams to be travelling across the country at this time. Therefore, U Sports is in the unfortunate position where we are unable to offer the 2021 winter championships.”
In their updated COVID-19 frequently asked questions document, the OUA left open the possibility of training and exhibition games, as long as they are in line with public health regulations and each specific university’s policies. However, with the recent announcement of the province reverting back to a modified stage two and the closing of gyms once again, it’s unclear if any athletic activities will be viable anytime soon.
“The OUA Board of Directors will continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 across the province and reserves the right to review and adjust these decisions on an on-going basis,” the FAQ states.
Regardless, barring some unforeseen circumstances, there will not be any meaningful OUA games played this academic year.