Photo By: Ontario University Athletics

In response to the Ontario government’s recent decision to not consider OUA sports as “amateur elite,” therefore disallowing them from continuing to operate normally under the new lockdown restrictions, many current and former OUA athletes have started sharing their thoughts on social media with the hashtag “#OUAISELITE”.

Athletes from all over Ontario have been using this hashtag with accompanying images of them playing their respected sports to highlight the intensity with which they compete in an attempt to make the case why OUA sports should be considered “amateur elite”.

The government’s decision has left 9500 student athletes without the ability to practice or play the sport that they love on a competitive level once again, while many other similar sport organizations are able to continue operating.

“The notion that the hard-working student-athletes, who have long strived toward the goal of competing at the post-secondary level and proudly representing one of the OUA’s 20 member institutions in the sport they love, aren’t considered elite by the Government of Ontario is a disservice to the dedication, commitment, and talent that they continue to show on a day-to-day basis,” read a statement released by the OUA on the matter.

On top of the OUA’s statement and the outcrying from student athletes on social media, an online petition has been launched by the Canadian Student Athlete Association, urging the government to designate OUA and OCAA as “elite athletic organizations.”

While the government’s goal may be to keep the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 to a minimum, it’s important to consider that student athletes are likely to continue training regardless of this ruling. Only now, instead of doing so in a regulated environment, with health and safety protocols in place, it will be done in private, likely resulting in greater risk of infection. 

Despite the perhaps good intentions of the Ontario government, student athletes have not taken this decision lightly. Many see it as an insult to them and the work that they have put in, as the government’s decision is not across the board, but singles out the OUA and a select few other sport organizations as explicitly not qualifying as “elite amateur”. 

At this point, it appears the government is set in their ways, and so OUA athletes will not be able to resume regular training until Jan. 27.