No body control allowed in next OHL season, says Ontario sports minister

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The Ontario Hockey League will not have body control this coming season, according to Lisa MacLeod.Ontario’s sports minister said in a speech to the Empire Club of Canada on Friday afternoon that removing intentional physical contact was a necessity for all sports in the province to slow the spread of COVID- 19

“Not just in the OHL, not just hockey generally, but all sports,” said MacLeod. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we need to take these public health precautions. ”

The OHL announced Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on February 4, the last of Canada’s three major junior leagues to release a schedule.

WATCH | MacLeod says body checking is prohibited by the OHL:

Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture discusses the OHL’s proposed return to play during the pandemic. 1:04

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season began earlier this month, but the schedule has been affected by several COVID-19 outbreaks as well as provincial government restrictions. After play was restricted to Maritime Division teams for the past two weeks, some Quebec teams are expected to resume play this weekend.

The Western Hockey League announced earlier this month that it plans to start its season on January 8.

MacLeod said the decision to ban body testing was influenced by the outbreaks in the QMJHL.

” I suspect [the OHL] will need to change their game until there’s a vaccine or at the very least public health clearance that we’ve contained the spread of COVID-19, ”MacLeod said.

The Nepean MP said she normally has no problem with physical play in sport, but the pandemic is an exceptional circumstance.

“I’ve done a lot of work on concussion awareness, so I take safety very seriously, but if it’s done correctly at regular times, I wouldn’t be doing it,” MacLeod said.

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