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Ontario's sport minister: OHL return to play would be 'irresponsible' right now

Lisa MacLeod says the province was days away from approving the OHL's plan to return to play in hub cities in late March before the third wave of the pandemic began in earnest
GM September 19 2019
Centre ice at The Kitchener Aud. Blair Adams/KitchenerToday

Ontario's minister of sport says it would be ``irresponsible'' to approve a return to play for the Ontario Hockey League given the current surge of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Sports Minister Lisa MacLeod says the province was days away from approving the OHL's plan to return to play in hub cities in late March before the third wave of the pandemic began in earnest.

The OHL is the only major junior league under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella not to begin a 2020-21 season.

Ontario is reporting a record-high 4,736 new cases of COVID-19 today and 29 more deaths linked to the virus.

There are currently 1,932 people hospitalized in Ontario with the novel coronavirus, with 659 patients in intensive care and 419 on a ventilator.

MacLeod says that several other leagues - including the NHL - have struggled with outbreaks and, given the severity of the situation in Ontario, a timeline for the OHL to return can't currently be considered.

The OHL released a statement late Thursday afternoon, saying the rise in COVID-19 cases and the stay-at-home order has "put increased pressure on (OHL Return to Play) plans."

"The league will provide a further update to our players, families, billets, teams and fans in the coming days."

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