Photo By: Ontario University Athletics

After a fall semester that saw the return of competitive university sport across Canada, the OUA announced that all programming, including scrimmages, exhibition games, tournaments, league competition and championships, will not resume as scheduled. 

Most winter sports have already concluded the first half of their regular seasons and paused competition as regularly scheduled for the winter break. Sports were originally set to resume on January 6, they are now to commence no earlier than Monday, January 24. 

As laid out in the OUA’s press release, this is being done to give member institutions
“sufficient time to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student-life programming and allow for student athletes to have sufficient time to properly train and prepare for the winter championship run.”

The rise of the omicron variant has led to the implementation of stricter COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario and across Canada as it continues to spread. Multiple professional sports leagues have already announced new capacity limits for spectators, with some choosing to postpone games as more and more athletes test positive for COVID-19. 

The OUA will continue to assess the situation and is prepared to extend the pause beyond the Jan. 24 date if it is deemed necessary. The OUA is making efforts to deliver sport in the winter season while keeping health and safety at the forefront of all decision making. 

Atlantic University Sports, Canada West and the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec have yet to make any announcements about cancellations or the pausing of their seasons. The OUA’s announcement will impact certain schools in Quebec who compete in men’s hockey in the OUA; McGill, Concordia and UQTR will be impacted as their divisional rivals, Carleton and Ottawa, will be out of competition until at least the end of January. 

COVID-19 has already resulted in the cancellation of the FISU Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade, which over 100 Canadian university athletes were set to compete in from Dec. 11 to 21. 

Whether university sport returns on January 24 as planned will depend on provincial restrictions, university policy, and public health guidelines. While all parties involved are certainly hoping for the best, they are indeed planning for the worst.