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OHL cancels 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19 restrictions

David Branch, President of the CHL and OHL Commissioner, addresses the crowd at the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup. (Terry Wilson / CHL Images)

It’s game over for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) 2020-2021 season after new COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible for teams to return to the ice

In an announcement Tuesday, the OHL said a return to play had been approved just a few weeks ago, but then the provincial government issued a stay-at-home order in an attempt to curb rising COVID numbers, forcing the league to call off play.

“We have worked tirelessly with the Province and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the past year on different scenarios and different windows of opportunity but the reality is the conditions in Ontario have never been right to start and complete an uninterrupted, safe opportunity for players to showcase their skills,” OHL commissioner David Branch said in a release.

“We owe it to our players and their families to be definitive. We were committed to return and play this season, but our hopes and desires have been dashed by the cruel realities of COVID-19.”

The news comes a day after the Western Hockey League revealed it would not be able to host a playoffs, following a 24-game regular season, due to the pandemic.

Ontario’s minister of sport, Lisa MacLeod, said last week that it’s “irresponsible” to approve a return to play for the OHL right now.

The OHL has been shelved since mid-March of last year, when it cancelled the remaining 56 games of the 2019-20 regular season due to the pandemic.

With files from Sportsnet Staff