Atlantic University Sport has cancelled conference-sanctioned sports competition and championship play this coming winter season.
AUS announced the decision Wednesday, a day after a meeting with the 11 member universities.
“We had hoped to be able to get to a place where we could see some semblance of a regular season and postseason take place for our winter sport student-athletes,” Phil Currie, AUS executive director, said in a news release.
“Unfortunately given the current realities in many of our regions, and evolving public health directives, this won’t be possible.”
In June, AUS decided to cancel fall sports competition and postpone the beginning of winter sports to January. Winter sports include hockey, basketball, volleyball, swimming, curling and track and field.
The Return-to-Play Committee was developing a comprehensive framework that included safety guidelines for participants, facilities and other risk mitigation strategies, AUS said Wednesday.
Atlantic University Sport will not proceed with regular season competition or championships in winter 2021
(AUS to allow member-driven competition this winter semester if public health directives allow)
— Atlantic University Sport (@AUS_SUA) November 25, 2020
With the increase of COVID-19 cases across Atlantic Canada, the risk of contracting the disease increased, making it difficult to play any contact sport.
In Halifax, gyms and sports facilities are closed for at least two weeks to help reduce the spread of the virus in the community.
That includes Dalplex, home to the Dalhousie Tigers.
“The whole thing has been disappointing to say the least,” Richard Plato, Dalhousie Tigers men’s basketball head coach, said in an interview. “We’ve been very fortunate to have 40 practices.”
While the regular season and postseason is cancelled, AUS will allow the universities within the same region to compete, if safe and allowed under public health guidelines.
That means universities in the same area will be allowed to play against each other in exhibition games. Any games must take place without fans in the stands.
“I just want to have some competition,” Plato said. “Whatever we can get and do it in a healthy and smart way, that’ll be good.”
There are four universities in Halifax with basketball programs: Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University, University of King’s College and Mount Saint Vincent University. They will be able to compete against each other without travelling.
“The most current public health directives will always determine the approach,” AUS said in the news release. “Any and all planned competition may be altered or cancelled in the event of a new or worsening outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in any relevant region.”