U SPORTS, Canada West cancel winter 2021 national championships

U SPORTS and Canada West have cancelled conference and national championships for winter 2021.

The announcement follows their decision in June to suspend competition due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This was an unanimous decision among the four conferences: Atlantic University Sport, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, Ontario University Athletics and Canada West.

Included in the cancellation are women’s and men’s championships in basketball, hockey, swimming, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. Curling Canada also previously announced the suspension of the 2021 university championships in September.

U SPORTS will announce its updated future hosting rotation before the end of the year.

“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, in a statement. “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.”

Canada West (CW) has also decided to cancel the women’s rugby 7s championship. CW has deferred the decisions concerning conference championships in curling, track and field and swimming.

“This isn’t the outcome any of us wanted, however, it has become increasingly clear over the last few weeks that the environment wasn’t going to change sufficiently to ensure safe competition in traditional conference formats in these sports," said CW President Clint Hamilton in a press release.

“Ultimately our members saw no feasible path to staging traditional Canada West conference events during the 2020-21 season in these sports … Our members will now shift their focus to finding new ways of delivering non-conference sport competition for our student-athletes,” Hamilton added.

While national and regional competitions are cancelled, CW has suggested conference members to explore regional, non-conference plays. This could include friendlies and exhibitions being arranged in place of the normal varsity competition schedule.

As for the Thunderbirds, they will continue to be able to train on campus, even though most competitions are either suspended or cancelled. Following strict COVID-19 guidelines, student athletes have the opportunity to train with teammates and familiarize themselves with their environment.

“Our department of the university is going to continue to keep the student-athletes’ down into the core of our decision making work and then we’ll be working with our coaching staff and our student athletes to create some level of regular training competition and competitive play,” said Kavie Toor, managing director of UBC athletics and recreation, in a previous statement to The Ubyssey.