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Ontario Releases Plan for Safe Return to Sport

New framework supports return to play for select professional and elite-amateur sport athletes

TORONTO – The Ontario government is releasing a framework for select Ontario professional and elite-amateur sport leagues and events that outlines the minimum requirements that must be met for a safe return to play.

Details were provided today by Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.

“Our government remains committed to protecting the health and well-being of all athletes by supporting return-to-play protocols that are safe, evidence-based and gradual,” said Minister MacLeod. “This is an important first step to getting all Ontario athletes back to sport safely, while supporting Ontario-based leagues and events that are strong local economic drivers and job creators.”

A small number of professional and elite-amateur sport leagues and events will be able to return to play under stringent public health and safety protocols developed in consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. This is in advance of the broader return to play for amateur and recreational sport that will be enabled through the Roadmap to Reopen, which will allow sport and recreation to resume in incremental steps throughout summer.

In addition, events hosted by a National Sport Organization (NSO) that is either funded by Sport Canada or recognized by the Canadian Olympic Committee or the Canadian Paralympic Committee, may also return to play if:

  • The event exclusively includes athletes, coaches and officials competing to be a part of Team Canada at the next summer or winter Olympic Games or Paralympic Games; or,
  • The event is an International Single Sport Event (ISSE) authorized by Sport Canada.

Key elements of the framework include: private COVID-19 screening and testing, assigned cohorts with limited or no interaction between different cohorts; practice, training and competition protocols; accommodation and travel/transportation services protocols; and individual control measures when not training or competing such as physical distancing and the use of face coverings. Details of the framework are available on the government of Ontario website.

The professional and elite-amateur sport framework, and the corresponding regulation amendments will allow more sport leagues and events to return to play prior to Steps Two and Three of the province’s recently announced Roadmap to Reopen, marking an important milestone to rebuilding the province’s social and economic well-being.


Quick Facts

  • A return-to-play framework, which sets out minimum expectations for return-to-play plans to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for participants, workers and the general population was developed in consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
  • According to a 2013 Conference Board of Canada report, professional sport contributes approximately $1 billion to the provincial economy each year and creates over 15,000 jobs in the province. The same report estimated that Ontario households spend $12.6 billion a year on amateur sport and recreation.
  • On June 10, 2021, the government opened the application intake period for the 2021-22 Sport Hosting Program. This annual grant program provides project-based funding to help applicants deliver national and international amateur sport events that help develop Ontario athletes, strengthen local communities, and create sport legacies. As a result of the public health situation due to COVID-19, there will be only one intake period for the 2021-22 year.