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Calls for ‘Dr. Henry of sport’ amid confusion over new B.C. restrictions

Click to play video 'Confusion over new sports COVID-19 regulations' Confusion over new sports COVID-19 regulations
There is confusion among B.C. amateur sports over what the new provincial COVID-19 restrictions allow, and what they don't allow. John Hua reports – Nov 20, 2020

A Victoria karate school operator is calling for a “Dr. Henry of sport” amid confusion over whether some combat sports are allowed to continue amid the latest COVID-19 health orders.

Richard Mosdell closed his Kenzen Sports Club last week at the direction of health inspectors, but said other clubs continue to operate amid what he calls unclear messaging.

Read more: B.C. club youth sports grapple with new COVID-19 restrictions

“It almost seems like some clubs are defying Dr. (Bonnie) Henry’s order, but in reality they’re just confused as to what exactly does it mean,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone is trying to skirt the rules.”

On Wednesday, the province updated its province-wide restrictions, to include a ban on all indoor group physical activities, including martial arts, gymnastics and cheerleading.

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Provincial health officer Henry clarified the order Friday, saying all indoor group physical activities, “whether they’re sport or fitness, are on hold right now,” and that new guidance would be available by the end of next week.

Read more: B.C. dance studios, other indoor group activity spaces must close amid COVID-19 restrictions

Judo BC is one of the provincial sporting organizations that continues to operate, in apparent contradiction to the order.

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President Donna Hanson told Global News Sunday she’d been given clear direction from viaSport, the organization that regulates amateur sport in B.C., that Judo could continue.

“We’re not actually confused at all,” she said.

“We have been allowed to continue our sport … Judo is a regulated sport by viaSport … and we’ve had explicit direction that we are allowed to continue.”

The same guidance document that bans martial arts also says sports games, competitions and practices can continue, with restrictions.

Hanson said judo clubs continue to operate under Phase 3 of viaSport’s Return to Play program, which means no travel or competition, no high-intensity training, a cohort model and other safety precautions.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: B.C. club sports take a hit due to new regional restrictions' Coronavirus: B.C. club sports take a hit due to new regional restrictions
Coronavirus: B.C. club sports take a hit due to new regional restrictions – Nov 13, 2020

Hanson’s understanding is that Henry’s order only applies to sports that aren’t regulated under the viaSport umbrellas.

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“We are following all the guidelines that have been set out, and we’re doing it successfully. To date, we’ve had no one in all of B.C. test positive for COVID.”

Global News requested a clarification from viaSport about who the order applies to, but did not receive a reply by publication.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health initially referred to the website which lists martial arts as one of the sports that is suspended, but said they would check with Henry’s team for more information.

Karate BC is also a viaSport partner, but has advised its members not to operate under the new restrictions.

Mosdell said if his club is allowed to be operating, he wants to know.

Read more: Parents anxious as Surrey school closed by COVID-19 prepares to reopen

The confusion is exactly why the province needs to appoint a public-facing spokesperson to deal with sports-related COVID issues on a regular basis, he said.

“That go-to person, that one source, whether it be the president of viaSport or president of Sport BC, or someone at provincial health,” he said.

“It’s really frustrating because we want to be safe, and if there can be a very clear message that, ‘Yes, you have to stay closed until Dec. 7 or Jan. 1, great, then we can deal with it.”

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