University athletes across Canada won’t be given the chance to compete for a championship this winter.

On Thursday, U Sports announced that it cannot offer the 2021 Winter National Championships due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“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.”

The impacted events include the women’s and men’s championships in basketball, hockey, swimming, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. Curling Canada previously announced the suspension of the 2021 university championships.

Health and safety are the main reason for the cancellation.

“It is important to consider the impact on the under-30 university demographic,” said Dr. Taryn Taylor, U Sports chief medical officer and representative on the Own the Podium Return to Sports Task Force.

“As the number of cases rise during the second wave of COVID-19, and without an available vaccine, on-going sports restrictions are required to ensure student-athlete health and safety.”

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Another critical reason for the announcement is the variety of local and provincial health restrictions facing championship hosts.

“U Sports is unique in that we offer nine winter championships in nine different parts of the country,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, U SPORTS chief sport officer.

“Our hosts are facing a variety of challenges due to COVID-19, including travel restrictions and limits on public indoor gatherings that impact event planning. We look forward to providing the hosts of the cancelled 2021 national championships the opportunity to host in future years.”

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Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
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