At least in Canada, the ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has extended into the 2020-21 collegiate season.
U SPORTS, the national governing body of university sport in Canada, announced the cancellation of its six 2020 fall national championships on Monday, along with modifications to eligiblity and scholarship regulations.
U SPORTS cancels 2020 fall championships due to COVID-19 / U SPORTS annule ses championnats d’automne 2020 en raison de la COVID-19
— U SPORTS (@USPORTSca) June 8, 2020
“U SPORTS has been working hard with the four conferences, our 56 member institutions and medical experts to examine the feasibility of delivering the fall national championships this season,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, U SPORTS Chief Sport Officer. “Taking into account the academic realities of university sport, we arrived at a point where a tough decision had to be made.”
Though the organization has been working to create a safe way to have sports gone on as normal amid the pandemic, the current climate has made it impossible to do so for the time being.
“Although the Canadian sport system is working together to create evidence-based return to training, practice and competition protocols, it is not currently feasible or safe due to the COVID-19 Pandemic for U SPORTS to be able to offer fall championships given the academic realities of student-sport,” said Dr. Taryn Taylor, U SPORTS Chief Medical Officer and representative on the Own the Podium Return to Sport Task Force. “We continue to work with public health officials across the country to examine possibilities for return to play for the winter 2021 term.”
Women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country running, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s rugby and football are the affected sports.
Three of the individual conferences (OUA, AUS and Canada West) have released their own modifications to competition structures for the 2020 fall term, while RSEQ is expected to make an announcement soon.
The OUA (Ontario) cancelled all sanctioned sport programming and championships up to December 31, the AUS (Atlantic Canada) has announced the suspension of all conference regular season and postseason competition until January 2021 and Canada West announced that no first term (up until January) competition will take place for “team sports”.
Canada West also included that a decision on swimming, cross country and golf would be made by July 15.
As of now, swimming, a winter sport, is hopeful to still have its championship run in February. Practices are expected to run depending on facility availability.
“U SPORTS and the conferences continue work on a plan for the delivery of the 2021 winter season,” the organization wrote in its release. “An announcement about those plans is expected in the fall.”
If the 2020-21 U SPORTS Championships are cancelled, athletes will not lose a year of eligibility. You can find the details on how COVID-19 potentially impacts eligibility and scholarships here.
This cancellation comes less than a week after the organization announced the hiring of Dick White as its interim CEO, who previously worked as the Athletics Director at the University of Regina.
Back on May 29, U SPORTS extended its moratorium on all in-person recruiting for its 12 sanctioned sports, including swimming, until June 15.