U SPORTS announced Thursday that it cannot offer the 2021 winter national championships due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The determination to not offer the championships comes with the unanimous support of its Board of Directors and the four university sports conferences: Atlantic University Sport, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, Ontario University Athletics and Canada West.
“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.
U SPORTS is committed to providing student-athletes with exceptional experiences to achieve their full academic and athletic potential. As such, health and safety are at the centre of Thursday’s announcement.
“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.”
Another critical consideration impacting today’s 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.”
U SPORTS will announce its updated future hosting rotation before the end of the year.