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Indoors or out, Dr. Henry shuts down sports games – Times Colonist

Indoors or out, Dr. Henry shuts down sports games – Times Colonist

“It will be an early ­Christmas break for our players,” ­Vancouver Island Soccer League executive director Vince Greco said Thursday after hearing the news adult and youth sports games on the Island — indoor or outdoor — are shut down due to the pandemic. Youth sports can still practice and train on a ­limited basis.

“There is a lot of work to be done in making up a new ­schedule with new cohorts. We are starting from scratch,” added Greco of the largest adult league on the Island. “We are hopeful of a Jan. 8 return.”

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the order is for the “next few weeks.” She added that sport and physical activity accounts for 10 to 15 per cent of COVID-19 transmissions in B.C. and that may be an underestimate.

Henry announced Wednesday that all indoor adult team sports were prohibited. Further orders Thursday included outdoor sports.

Bringing people together is what sport does best and is its greatest attribute and appeal. The pandemic has, ironically, turned that into sport’s greatest detriment.

“When people come together is when this virus can spread,” said Henry, during her briefing Thursday.

“A lot of adult sports are really very much social gatherings as well as sport. Those types of gatherings are leading to transmission events. We’ve seen it in a number of adult team sports. We need to step back from those. It’s the locker-room. It’s the before, it’s the after, and the going out for coffee or beer after a game that has been the most source of transmission. It’s difficult because much of that is built into the culture of adult team sports. So let’s focus on our children. Supervised sports for young people have not been a source of the same type of risk and transmission.” Island sports organizations have reacted to the new orders.

The Victoria Minor Hockey Association, emerging from a voluntary two-week shutdown with the other 16 minor hockey associations on the Island, had just sent out its new schedule to parents and players on Tuesday. But those re-scheduled games, set to begin this weekend, are now cancelled because of the new orders. Practices are still allowed for youth sports but they have gone back to individually distanced skills and drills.

“We will be hosting a skills competition so at least we can get something competitive in,” said Nicki Reich, president of the Victoria Minor Hockey ­Association.

Juan de Fuca Minor Soccer Association president Kevin Allen informed his members by Facebook on Thursday: “Due to the just announced updated provincial health order … all games are now cancelled until further notice. As we are to move back to Phase 1, non-contact, social distanced soccer. We are hopeful that we will be able to get back on the field in the new year, but only time will tell. Hopefully, better days are ahead.”

With the vaccines coming, Henry touched on those better days.

“It may feel like it but it’s not forever. It will change,” she said.

“We will get back to having games and back to travel and playing against people from other communities. But right now we’re still having challenges. It’s not so much the kids on the field. It’s the away from the field of play. We’ve looked at not having travel and no spectators to reduce those ­probabilities. But we’re finding it’s still a challenge.”

There is a separate high-performance model that pertains to the guidelines, which includes exemptions for athletes training on the Island, Richmond and Whistler for next summer’s delayed Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

It is not clear, however, how this affects other higher-performance sports. University of Victoria Vikes, Camosun College Chargers and Vancouver Island University Mariners team sports have already been cancelled for the season. But the B.C. Hockey League, with five teams in the Island Division, is scheduled to open the regular season Dec. 8 and the Victoria Royals of the WHL on Jan. 8.

The governor of a BCHL Island Division team, who did not want to be identified, said it is highly doubtful the league will begin the season as planned Dec. 8.

BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb could not be reached for comment.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Published at Fri, 04 Dec 2020 05:15:00 +0000

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