U Sports cancels 2020 fall championships due to COVID-19

Photo courtesy: Mathieu Belanger

U Sports has cancelled its six 2020 fall national championships and announced modifications to eligibility and scholarship regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“U Sports has been working hard with the four conferences, our 56 member institutions and medical experts to examine the feasibility of delivering the fall national championships this season,” Lisette Johnson-Stapley, U Sports chief sport officer, said.

“Taking into account the academic realities of university sport, we arrived at a point where a tough decision had to be made.”

The decision comes as a result of the on-going uncertainties with student-athlete health and safety, travel and public health restrictions that affect parts of the country and different curriculum delivery models being proposed on the campus of its 56 member universities.

“Although the Canadian sport system is working together to create evidence-based return to training, practice and competition protocols, it is not currently feasible or safe due to the COVID-19 Pandemic for U Sports to be able to offer fall championships given the academic realities of student-sport,” Dr. Taryn Taylor, U Sports chief medical officer, said.

“We continue to work with public health officials across the country to examine possibilities for return to play for the winter 2021 term.”

The affected championships include the sports of women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country running, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s rugby and football including the national semifinals (Mitchell and Uteck Bowls) and the Vanier Cup. The hosts of the cancelled fall 2020 national championships will have the opportunity to host in future years.

Since March, U Sports has been working with the four university sport conferences (Atlantic University Sport, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, Ontario University Athletics and Canada West) in order to identify ways to deliver university sport to Canadians in the COVID-19 environment.

As a result, AUS, OUA and Canada West made announcements today concerning modifications to their competition structures for the 2020 fall term, while the RSEQ continues to be in deliberations and will announce their plans in the near future. U Sports and the conferences continue work on a plan for the delivery of the 2021 winter season. An announcement about those plans is expected in the fall.

As a national multi-sport organization that is based in an academic setting, U Sport made changes to exemptions and qualifications pertaining to athletic scholarships (officially known as Athletic Financial Awards, or AFAs) and eligibility.