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London sports teams dealing with suspended seasons amid coronavirus concerns

Local sports teams are feeling the impact of season cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local sports teams are feeling the impact of season cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jim Van Horne/980 CFPL

Several London sports teams have seen their seasons come to an abrupt end after a wave of international, national and provincial sports leagues announced the cancellation or postponement of their respective seasons.

The Ontario Hockey League paused its season on Thursday. There were just two weeks left in the regular season when the decision came down, and there’s no word on how this will impact the Memorial Cup, whose playoff final is scheduled to take place in Kelowna, B.C., in late May.

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Following the OHL’s decision, officials announced that the OHL Cup, which features Minor Midget AAA teams from Ontario and the U.S., had been cancelled, a move that impacted the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs. The Chiefs were busy preparing for next week’s tournament and are coming off the Alliance Hockey Championship. They have been one of the top-ranked minor midget teams in the province this season.

The OHL Cup is seen by many as a big tournament for OHL scouts ahead of the league’s draft in April. Several players on the Chiefs are expected to be selected in the OHL draft.

READ MORE: NHL suspends its season amid coronavirus pandemic

The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League and Provincial Junior Hockey League playoffs have also been cancelled. The St. Marys Lincolns were set to face Leamington in second-round action, while the London Nationals and LaSalle Vipers had already played one game of their series when the decision to cancel was made.

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The decisions from the GOJHL and PJHL follow a statement from the Ontario Hockey Association to “cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities.”

That includes upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation tournaments and games for other minor hockey leagues currently in their post-season.

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At the university level, the U Sports national hockey championships have been cancelled. The Western Mustangs played one game of the tournament before the cancellation came down.

The National Basketball League of Canada, which includes the London Lightning, has also suspended the remainder of its season.

On Friday morning, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association announced that the indoor soccer championship would continue with restricted access for essential personnel only.

READ MORE: Rick Zamperin — The sports world succumbs to coronavirus

In light of the Ontario government’s decision to close all publicly funded schools for two weeks following March break, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations is holding internal meetings on Friday to determine the status of its upcoming events later this month. Officials say they will provide further updates when they become available.

Hockey Canada has announced that the minor hockey season is over effective immediately because of the growing COVID-19 crisis.

READ MORE: Western University cancels classes, Fanshawe College remains open amid coronavirus pandemic

Ontario Soccer has made a similar decision, cancelling all sanctioned soccer activities in the province until further notice. Those activities include all competitions, training, coach and match official education and team-building activities.

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Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.