Ivy League colleges halt sport over virus concern

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The Ivy League group of elite US universities on Wednesday halted all sports until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, in a move that could have wide implications for the lucrative world of college sports.

A statement from the Ivy League's Council of Presidents said no sport at all would be played during the autumn semester, which runs from September until December.

"With the information available to us today regarding the continued spread of the virus, we simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk," the Ivy League's council said in a statement.

A decision on whether sports could return in the New Year would be taken at a later date.

The ruling means the eight Ivy League colleges will play no gridiron football this year.

Although Ivy League gridiron teams are not the strongest in the United States, Wednesday's decision could influence other institutions currently grappling with the issue of how to organise sport safely in the era of COVID-19.

Ivy League executive director Robin Harris told ESPN campus policies designed to mitigate the threat of coronavirus, with many requiring students to study remotely, made sport a non-starter.

"The campus policies make it impractical for competition to occur, at least through the end of the fall semester," Harris said.

"Eight campuses have announced their policies for the fall over the past two weeks. When we realized and the presidents realized based on these campus policies that we couldn't have competition we wanted to make sure the student-athletes were aware of the outcome.

"It's certainly the right decision for the Ivy League, but it's difficult."

The Ivy League said practice and other athletic training would be permitted, starting with limited individual and small group workouts.