Ontario university athletes in Hamilton, Oshawa and St. Catharines face COVID-19 vax requirement

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Published August 25, 2021 at 8:48 pm

Ontario University Athletics has left competitors with enough space to start their COVID-19 vaccine series this week and still be eligible.

The nation’s largest university sports conference, which has member schools in Hamilton, Oshawa and St. Catharines, announced its mandatory vaccine policy on Wednesday (Aug. 25). The OUA starts that effective Oct. 15, all participants, including student-athletes, coaches, support staff, athletic therapists and officials must be fully vaccinated. That means being at least 14 days removed from receiving their second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series. Those with approved vaccination exemptions (i.e., medical, Ontario Human Rights Code) will be required to produce a negative rapid antigen of PCR test within 48 hours of the event.

Based on the minimum 28-day gap between first and second doses, that means the latest anyone who is unvaccinated could get their first jab is around Sept. 2 or 3.

Several universities have already said proof of vaccination would be required to participate in campus activities that include varsity sports, and others have said proof of vaccination is required to visit campus.

The OUA says that until the new rule takes effect on Oct. 15, all participants are required to have a negative rapid antigen or PCR test within 48 hours of the event, unless they have proof of being fully vaccinated.

The OUA’s fall sports schedule typically starts the week prior to Labour Day weekend. Schedules have been delayed and shortened due to COVID-19 concerns.

In Hamilton, the McMaster Marauders football team opens their schedule against the Western Mustangs on Sept. 18 in London. The first on-campus home game for any Mac team is Sept. 24, when Marauders men’s rugby hosts the Trent Excalibur.

The football Marauders’ home opener is Oct. 2 against the Waterloo Warriors. Waterloo star Tre Ford is considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in Canadian university football.

Ontario Tech’s first home date will be a soccer doubleheader on Sept. 23. The Ridgebacks host the York Lions.

The first Brock Badgers home games are also in rugby on Sept. 25. The Badgers men host Western, and the women’s rugby Badgers host the Queen’s Gaels.

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