It’s “game on” again for organizers of upcoming youth sports tournaments, however, that doesn’t include high school teams just yet.
During a media briefing on Tuesday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced youth sports tournaments and jamborees can proceed again, starting Feb. 1. That is welcome news for associations and clubs that can now proceed with plans for upcoming spring break tournaments and year-end jamborees. Among those events is B.C. Amateur Hockey’s provincial championships, slated for March, which will see teams begin the qualifying process in the coming weeks.
“We know that sports have a different place for youth in terms of growth and development and future opportunities. So we have always prioritized making sure that young people are able to access these important aspects in their lives, particularly at that age, and there are timing limits for things like university scholarships that become important," Henry said.
“So we've taken all that into effect and prioritized really making sure that we can safely restart youth sports tournaments first.”
Also on the horizon is the high school basketball post-season which typically includes tournament formats at neutral site gyms for city, zone and provincial championships. B.C. School Sports (BCSS) has clarified Henry’s announcement does not include high school tournaments.
“The current prevention measures for K-12 schools continue to require extracurricular sports tournaments to remain paused,” said BCSS executive director Jordan Abney. “We have already been in discussion with the Ministry of Education and expect to have more clarity on school sporting tournaments no later than Friday (Jan. 28).”
The high school basketball season has continued without tournaments and spectators since early January. BCSS has provided recommendations on how playoffs can proceed with the current restrictions in place. It includes modifying tournament formats and games being hosted by individual schools.
“We recognize how important our events are to student-athletes, and currently are still planning to move forward with our various winter championships,” stated Abney. “These are slated to begin in late February and run through mid-March. The BCSS Board of Directors will continue to evaluate the situation in real-time. We know that many sports will start their local district or zone championships while the order is in effect, or the days immediately following its currently planned expiry (Feb. 16).”
With files from Chelsea Powrie / Castanet