RSEQ cancels fall seasons, athletes and staff wait await news on winter sports

On Sept. 14. the RSEQ announced the cancellation of all university sports in Quebec, adding to the June 8 U SPORTS announcement of the cancellation of all national championships in the Fall 2020 season. No RSEQ-sanctioned competitions will take place until at least Dec. 31. The league was originally scheduled to make an announcement about the potential fall season on Aug. 31, but decided to push it back by two weeks in order to monitor the effects of students returning to Montreal. Stéphane Boudreau, Deputy Director-General of the RSEQ, had previously emphasized the fluidity of the situation. 

“As of today, they’re supposed to be able to play on [Sept.] 14, but everything could change the Friday before,” Boudreau told The Montreal Gazette in an article published on Sept.1.

With many students returning to Montreal from different provinces and countries, the risk of a spike in COVID-19 cases is high. According to CBC News, Montreal has already seen a rise in cases, and on Sept. 11, Quebec reported 244 cases, the highest number of daily cases in over three months. RSEQ decision-makers delayed an announcement in order to evaluate the full effect of students returning to school before making a definite decision on the fate of the Fall 2020 season. 

The Sept. 14 decision explained the reasoning behind the cancellation, as well as the scope.

“After having analyzed all possible scenarios, members of the university sector of the RSEQ announce the cancellation of sanctioned sports programming until December 31, 2020,” the statement said. “This difficult decision made by members of the RSEQ university sector is based primarily on the regional alert system, which may limit the participation of universities, even if said institutions effectively manage health-and-safety best practices.”

The announcement, however, did leave exceptions for lower-risk sports activities.

“To keep student-athletes engaged, members of the RSEQ university sector will permit activities involving at least two different teams in the following sports: Cross-country, golf, and soccer—thus giving universities the flexibility to evolve at their own pace and with their own realities. However, due to universities’ level of risk management, no inter-team activities will be permitted in football and rugby,” the statement said.

Staff and athletes are now waiting for an announcement by the RSEQ regarding the winter sports’ seasons, which is anticipated to be released on Oct. 15.

Third-year track and field sprinter Stephanie Susinski looks forward to returning to practice, but does not want to get her hopes up with so much uncertainty regarding a return date for competition.

“I’m excited for practices to start up again,” Susinski said in an interview with the The McGill Tribune. “I’m trying to take things one step at a time because, as we’ve all been too familiar with recently, plans are subject to change [on] short notice, so nobody can really say how the season will play out.” 

With nearly all fall sports cancelled, spectators and athletes alike will miss out on events such as homecoming and playoff competition. Athletes and coaches will continue to wait out the hiatus and train on their own times to maintain momentum heading into a tentative winter season. If the winter season goes forward, it will be drastically different than prior years, as all teams must continue to follow government health directives and adjust to the continually changing public health situation. As much as athletes want to return to competing, health and safety remains the top priority.

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