Ivy League cancels winter sports amid US COVID-19 pandemic surge

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The Ivy League on Thursday announced that it would be cancelling competitions for winter sports and postponing spring sports through February 2021 due to continued safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The league is the first Division I college athletics conference to cancel its winter sports seasons. The league includes Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale. 

The group wrote in a press release Thursday that “the unanimous decisions by the Ivy League Council of Presidents follow extended consideration of options and strategies to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, an analysis of current increasing rates of COVID-19 – locally, regionally and nationally – and the resulting need to continue the campus policies related to travel, group size and visitors to campus that safeguard the campus and community.”

The canceled winter sports include men’s and women’s basketball, ice hockey, squash, swimming and diving, indoor track and field, and wrestling. 

The league added that it would still allow practices for student athletes as long as they follow university and local safety guidelines. 

The statement added that student athletes would not lose a season of Ivy League or NCAA eligibility. 

In a joint statement, the council of presidents wrote that “our commitment to the safety and lasting health of our student-athletes and wider communities must remain our highest priority.” 

“Throughout the last nine months, we have asked our campus communities to make extraordinary adjustments in order to do our part in combating the global pandemic and to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty members, staff and the communities in which they live and work,” the university presidents added. 

“Regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to intercollegiate athletics competition in a safe manner,” the statement continued. “Student-athletes, their families and coaches are again being asked to make enormous sacrifices for the good of public health — and we do not make this decision lightly.

In March, the Ivy League announced that its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be canceled as the pandemic first hit the country, making it the first Division I conference to do so. 

In July, the league announced it would not be competing in fall sports due to COVID-19 cases continuing to spike across the U.S.

Other college football conferences, however, have resumed competition after facing pressure from conservatives, including President Trump, who pressed for college sports to continue as normal while downplaying concerns about the virus.

The conferences have sought to take precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19, although this has proven to be a challenge as college campuses have experienced a large number of outbreaks. 

On Tuesday, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) postponed two major upcoming football games after players tested positive for the virus. No immediate information was given about when the games would be rescheduled, or how many people had tested positive.

Last month, the mayors of Big Ten college communities wrote an open letter to conference officials “humbly” requesting the enactment of measures “to ensure we have the tools we need to combat the spread of Covid-19.”

Tags Big Ten Conference Brown University Columbia Cornell University coronavirus covid-19 Dartmouth College Donald Trump Harvard Ivy League Princeton University Southeastern Conference University of Pennsylvania Yale

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