The news came about a week later than was originally expected, but on Thursday the Canada West Conference announced further cancellations of regular-season schedules and playoffs due to COVID-19 concerns.
The cancellations include the men’s and women’s sports of basketball, volleyball, hockey and wrestling, as well as women’s rugby 7s.
Decisions are still forthcoming at a later date on the fate of curling, track and field, and swimming conference championships.
There still might be an opportunity for student athletes at the U of M, U of W and Brandon U to overcome the coronavirus in Manitoba and compete amongst themselves in somewhat of a cohort or bubble format as conference schools have been given the option of exploring regional play in their respective sports.
Thursday’s pandemic-related decision followed a vote of Canada West’s 17 conference members who took into account recommendations from the CW Board of Directors based on information provided by the CW COVID-19 Task Force.
Some of those factors included ensuring the health and safety of student athletes and others, the rising case numbers across western Canada in the specific age group of university athletes and ongoing inter-provincial travel restrictions imposed by provincial health authorities.
That task force was comprised of Canada West athletic directors, along with medical professionals.
Previously, all fall sports were cancelled in early June and the Conference Golf Championship was dropped from the schedule in late September due to travel restrictions and heightened travel costs due to COVID-19 mitigation protocols.
“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 Canada West president Clint Hamilton in a news release.
“Ultimately our members saw no feasible path to staging traditional Canada West conference events during the 2020-21 season in these sports. With today’s decision our members have opted to provide clarity to our stakeholders, most importantly our student-athletes.
“Collectively we didn’t take the decision to cancel fall competition lightly in June, and today’s announcement is equally disappointing to everyone involved in university sport. Our members will now shift their focus to finding new ways of delivering non-conference sport competition for our student-athletes.”
Hope remains that a full schedule of university sports will be able to return in the fall of 2021.