The Latest: Virus variants keep Ontario Hockey League idle

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

___

Ontario’s minister of sport says it would be “irresponsible” to give the OK for the Ontario Hockey League to start its season right now.

Sports Minister Lisa MacLeod said Thursday the province was days away from approving the OHL’s plan to return to play in late March when the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic began in earnest in the province. She said that although she had been hopeful there would be an OHL season, there was no way to justify the league returning given how quickly variants of the virus can spread.

The OHL is the only major junior league under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella that hasn’t begun its season. The Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League have played modified schedules this year.

The CHL canceled the Memorial Cup, Canada’s major junior championship, on Tuesday. It had been scheduled to be held in Ontario, which reported a record-high 4,736 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 29 more deaths linked to the virus.

MacLeod said any resumption of play would have to be approved by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

___

South Carolina is increasing the allowed attendance for the team’s spring football game later this month from 9,000 to 15,000.

The school’s athletic department said that the rollout of vaccinations within the state had gone well and Prisma Health officials agreed that an increase in attendance at Williams-Brice Stadium for the game April 24 would not impact a vaccination clinic being staged at Gamecock Park directly across from the field.

The athletic department says face coverings must be worn to come inside and will be required while watching, except if a fan is eating or drinking.

___

The Nashville Predators will be able to host up to 5,700 fans with local health officials expanding COVID protocols.

The Predators will be able to host up to 33% of capacity at Bridgestone Arena starting Monday with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. That’s an increase of more than 1,500 fans.

The changes mean more fans will be allowed in the lower bowl and suite areas. Fans still are required to wear masks inside the arena except when eating and drinking.

The updates from the Nashville Metro Public Health Department also allow for 40% capacity at outdoor stadiums. Nashville SC in MLS will be able to take advantage of that for the club’s opener Saturday night against Cincinnati.

___

Rice is out of the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament in Omaha, Nebraska, because of COVID-19 protocols, and its opening match against North Carolina A&T on Wednesday night was declared a no contest.

The Owls (16-5) were set to make their third straight appearance in the tournament, and sixth overall, after winning the Conference USA West Division title.

Coach Genny Volpe says the team is devastated.

“It certainly is painful to see how much the team wanted to compete and to have to break the news to them that they couldn’t play,” Volpe said. “To compete in this tournament meant so much to all of us.”

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

Other Sports News | Sports

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up