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Sports ‘Nothing will dissuade’ Ford from continuing with sports lockdown

07:50  07 may  2021
07:50  07 may  2021 Source:   torontosun.com

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“ Nothing will dissuade them from that,” Boyce said. “If I could say or do anything that would change their minds, I’d do it. However, I do respect their position.” That does not mean sports groups and athletes young and old across the province aren’t fighting back. Nearly 100,000 tennis players in Ontario have signed an online petition urging the Ford government to permit the immediate return of their sport . Once the first province-wide lockdown lifted last July, the Ontario Tennis Association oversaw 225 tournaments until lockdowns resumed in November. Thanks in part to a wave of special

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Prepare yourself, Ontario, for two more weeks of no-sports misery.

a group of people on a court with a racket: Ontario kids will not be seeing this kind of outdoor, organized tennis any time soon. ED KAISER/POSTMEDIA © Provided by Toronto Sun Ontario kids will not be seeing this kind of outdoor, organized tennis any time soon. ED KAISER/POSTMEDIA

Although sports organizers — on behalf of millions of frustrated, idled, even depressed young athletes across the province — are valiantly fighting back against the Ontario government’s current ban, it’s all for naught, apparently.

Postmedia has learned Premier Doug Ford’s office told tennis leaders this week it has no plans to budge from its decision early last month to prevent hundreds of thousands of Ontarians from playing their sport of choice before May 20, when province-wide emergency lockdown measures are scheduled to expire.

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The countries that did the extremely hard lockdowns , shut it all down for a couple weeks, are all doing better than the countries that keep doing the half-assing. Proactive vs reactive. Obviously it does, but some countries just didn't really do lockdowns , or locked down hard and properly in the beginning to minimize damage. He was in Ukraine like 6 months ago and there was a straight up street concert happening with a DJ and shops were open as usual.

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So, you may play golf, tennis, soccer, baseball or run track almost anywhere else in North America. But not in Canada’s most populous province.

Sports-wise, Ontario remains yours not to discover.

The current province-wide stay-at-home order went into effect April 7, which shut down sports from Windsor, to Cornwall, to Moosonee to Kenora.

Ontario Soccer’s leaders on Wednesday sent a letter to Ford urging him to rescind the all-sports ban, because the “social and physical neglect of our children and youth must stop.”

In interviews since Postmedia revealed contents of that letter on Wednesday, leaders of four other prominent outdoor sports in Ontario — tennis, football, baseball and track and field — shared with Postmedia what they’re doing so far in vain to convince advisers to Ford that sports, in fact, when organized, can be conducted safely even during a pandemic, as almost everywhere else in Canada and the U.S.

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Shutting down airports in the province was also reportedly considered, and the Ford government rewed calls for rapid testing for airline passengers though the feds said they first want to see more data on rapid testing submitted to the Public Health Agency of Canada. On Friday, Ford said that he would be holding emergency meetings throughout the weekend amid a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Ontario. Many health-care officials, as well as some Greater Toronto Area politicians — including Toronto Mayor John Tory — have called for stronger restrictions over the holidays in a bid

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It’s a message provincial leaders clearly do not want to hear. Nor act upon.

James Boyce, executive director of the Ontario Tennis Association since 1997, said in an interview that he and Tennis Canada president/CEO Michael Downey on Tuesday met virtually for 40 minutes with two members of Ford’s leadership office. Boyce said he and Downey were rather surprised to hear it’s not a matter of whether organized tennis — or any other sport that strictly enforces COVID-19 distancing and masking protocols — is safe.

Rather, it’s that the Ford government has no desire to make lockdown exceptions for hundreds of thousands of sports participants while insisting everyone else stays home.

“Nothing will dissuade them from that,” Boyce said. “If I could say or do anything that would change their minds, I’d do it. However, I do respect their position.”

That does not mean sports groups and athletes young and old across the province aren’t fighting back.

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As Canada’s second-most populated province is entering the second month of its third lockdown , some locals are growing worried about its long-term consequences.

13 — that Ford warned Ontario that the province "was staring down the barrel of another lockdown ." Yet throughout October, November and December, he also made repeated statements suggesting things were just fine, contradicting the messages of concern. Modelling projects Ontario’s hospital intensive care units to be filled beyond capacity in early February if the current growth rate in COVID-19 cases continues .

Nearly 100,000 tennis players in Ontario have signed an online petition urging the Ford government to permit the immediate return of their sport.

Once the first province-wide lockdown lifted last July, the Ontario Tennis Association oversaw 225 tournaments until lockdowns resumed in November. Thanks in part to a wave of special safety measures, not a single COVID-19 infection is known to have been passed between anyone on any tennis court, Joyce said.

a little boy that is standing in the grass:  Athletics Ontario sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford urging Ontario to allow kids to resume outdoor sports such as track and field. GETTY IMAGES Athletics Ontario sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford urging Ontario to allow kids to resume outdoor sports such as track and field. GETTY IMAGES

Similarly, no incidents of coronavirus transmission are known to have occurred in Ontario during soccer, baseball, and track and field competitions or practices during the pandemic, according to their provincial leaders. And this was BEFORE anyone in Ontario got vaccinated.

In a four-page letter sent Tuesday by Athletics Ontario — the governing body of track and field in this province — to Ford, president and board chair Dean A. Hustwick and CEO Paul Osland pointed out that none of 7,000 participants at 120 clubs contracted COVID-19 in-sport. What’s more, 40 track or cross-country meets held last summer and fall involving 2,000 competitors also reported zero cases or transmissions.

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“The science is pretty clear that there is very little risk of getting COVID-19 during outdoor sports activities, while there is very clear evidence that these restrictions are very much hurting the mental health of our children,” Osland said to Postmedia.

“Without organized sport activities, children will still gather to play outdoors and they will be playing unsupervised — and much more likely to not follow safety guidelines, such as maintaining appropriate social distancing, etc.”

One of many safety protocols Athletics Ontario implemented was staggered starts for all cross-country races. Rather than all runners starting at once in a tightly packed mass that gradually thins out over the course of however many kilometres, runners instead were individually timed, each starting at five-second intervals.

“That meant far less bunching and passing,” Osland said.

Aaron Geisler, executive director of Ontario Football, said Ontario might be the only province or state in Canada and the United States where tackle football has not been played since pandemic lockdowns began in March 2020.

“They’re playing tackle football now in New Brunswick,” Geisler said.

Before the pandemic, up to 25,000 Ontarians played tackle, touch or flag football. Now, as is the case with all amateur sports in Ontario, many youth clubs don’t know if financially they can survive the year, Geisler said.

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Brent Peltola, director of safe sport for Baseball Ontario, said his organization not only is also lobbying the province to permit sports to resume immediately, but is seeking for this year an expansion of Ontario’s outdoor sport-activity “bubble” cohort limit beyond 50 people — so as to allow 10 or more teams to compete against one another, which would allow local programs to run, and further enable provincial championships to be contested for the first time since 2019.

Last year’s Ontario sports bubble/cohort limit was 3-4 teams.

Baseball Ontario introduced a slew of safety protocols and rule revisions in last year’s truncated season, July-October. One was to relocate the plate umpire (who calls balls and strikes) to behind the pitcher, to lessen crowding in the plate area. Another special rule banned base runners from leaning, so as to eliminate the need of a first baseman holding a runner closer to first, and thereby putting those two players in close contact.

No Ontarian contracted COVID-19 last year from organized baseball. Peltola said any participants in his sport who might have become infected didn’t catch it on a baseball diamond, where athletes are almost always well-distanced.

“It’s not a place where transmissions are occurring,” Peltola said. “It’s not like you catch it rounding second base toward third.”

Christine Elliott posing for the camera:  Health Minister Christine Elliott, with Premier Doug Ford behind her, said on Wednesday that Ontario would not be allowing organized sports “based on the medical advice that we’ve received from the experts.” POSTMEDIA FILES Health Minister Christine Elliott, with Premier Doug Ford behind her, said on Wednesday that Ontario would not be allowing organized sports “based on the medical advice that we’ve received from the experts.” POSTMEDIA FILES

Health minister Christine Elliott, during Wednesday’s Q&A period at Queen’s Park, was asked by independent MPP Roman Baber for York Centre if she would “listen to all the experts who unanimously say” that outdoor sports are safe.

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Elliott replied that “organized sports, right now, are not something that we can encourage, based on the medical advice that we’ve received from the experts, that the levels of (COVID-19) transmission are still too high in our communities. We need to make sure that people stay at home as much as possible.”

That statement contradicts what real science, not junk political science, actually says. Not one province in this country has a speck of evidence that COVID-19 transmits between people during sports games or training, a Postmedia special report found two months ago after reaching out to all 10 provincial public health agencies.

Real science says people are far likelier to catch COVID at home than on the outdoor fields, tracks and courts of organized sports — where thoughtful safety protocols are strictly enforced.

Yet the Ford government keeps insisting that millions of teens, children and adult athletes alike spend more time at home. Indoors. Static. In which conditions the coronavirus is likeliest to transmit to others.

It’s head-shaking. And wrong.

JoKryk@postmedia.com

@JohnKryk

Maybe border restrictions could be tighter — but Ford is in no position to cast stones .
Ontario Premier Doug Ford — previously a big fan of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland — is suddenly very eager to let Ontarians how unhappy he is with how Justin Trudeau's government is handling the pandemic. Ford's office sent a news release to reporters at Queen's Park on Tuesday to alert them to the fact that the provincial government had sent three "urgent" letters to the federal government calling for stricter border measures to better screen travellers to Ontario for COVID-19. Ford's Progressive Conservative party has also now purchased ads on Facebook to criticize the federal government's handling of the border.

usr: 7
This is interesting!