As a result of uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, all university sports in Atlantic Canada will be cancelled until January 2021.
The announcement was made by Atlantic University Sport (AUS) on Monday and was reached in consultation with the other university sport conferences, including Ontario University Athletics and Canada West, as well as the national governing body U Sports.
That means sports like soccer, football, rugby and cross country will not hold a regular season, a post-season or national championships.
Phil Currie, executive director of Atlantic University Sport, said the decision to cancel the fall season was disappointing but that public health and safety of student-athletes were the main focus.
“This decision to suspend didn’t come easily,” said Currie. “Our discussions were ongoing since March.”
The AUS season faced multiple challenges this year, according to Currie.
The 11 schools that make up the organization’s members are spread out through four different provinces, all of which are in different stages of recovery and reopening.
Furthermore, each school would have to follow the directives of its respective provincial health authority.
The decision by several of the schools to move their classes to an online format posed another challenge.
“We have borders to cross and we have to fly teams in from other provinces and so this is a considerable challenge given provincial guidelines,” said Currie.
“As difficult and disappointing as this decision is, it is the most prudent and responsible one under the circumstances.”
Currie says he and the AUS have been in continued conversation Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health Doctor Robert Strang, who Currie says is pointing to a potential resurgence of the virus come fall.
“A worst-case scenario for us, was if we were able to start competition in the fall and in the middle of that we would have to pull the plug,” said Currie.
The AUS, along with conferences across Canada, says it is committed to holding sports competitions as soon as it is safe to do so.
It will be left to each university how they will organize any sports programming this fall.
U Sports has determined that if there is no national championship in a given sport, student-athletes in that sport will not consume a year of eligibility.
Each university will make its own decision on whether athletic scholarships will be provided — even though a sport will not be played.
A decision on the AUS winter term will not be made until this fall as officials continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ll have to look at the public health and travel guidelines at that time and determine where we go for the winter semester,” said Currie.