SUDBURY -- Ontario University Athletics announced Thursday it is cancelling all OUA-sanctioned sports and championships up to March 31, 2021.

In a news release, the OUA said it the decision "was based on provincial public health guidelines and with the health and well-being of all OUA participants at the forefront.

“The health of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, and fans remains OUA’s number one priority,” Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, chair of the OUA board of directors, is quoted as saying in the release. “After significant consultation with our members and advisers, we have determined that OUA sport cannot be delivered prior to March 31.

"We recognize how disappointing this is to many, especially our student-athletes, but these are unprecedented times. We are committed to delivering OUA sport once it is safe to do so.”

Nipissing University student-athletes were informed of the decision earlier today, the school said. The university will continue to follow its Return to Train plan, which is informed by public health guidelines.

Disappointing news

"Student-athletes are still encouraged to return to campus to continue to engage in aspects of a safe Lakers athletics sport program that have been in place since September," the school said.

“This is disappointing news for everyone, but the health and safety of our Lakers community remains paramount,” said Vito Castiglione, director of athletics at Nipissing University. “Our student-athletes are strong, determined and resilient and we will face these challenges as a united Lakers community. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of our athletes and coaches in adhering to public health guidelines and our Return to Train plan to keep each other safe.”

“While we would love nothing more than to see our student-athletes back on the field of play and participating in OUA-sanctioned competition during the second term, we are not yet at a place where that can occur safely," said Gord Grace, OUA president and CEO. “As disappointing as that reality is, I am confident that our participants will continue to demonstrate their resolve and determination through these exceptional circumstances and as we work toward an eventual safe return to competition.

"A decision like this is never easy to make. To continue to uphold the health and safety of all participants, however, it remains a necessary step to take, and I commend the OUA Board of Directors for their work and decision-making throughout this process.”

The full announcement from the OUA can be viewed on their website here