‘Immediately reopen outdoor activities’: sports associations urge Ford to let people play

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Premier Doug Ford is being tackled by gangs for his pandemic outdoor sports ban.

Executives from Athletics Ontario, Golf Ontario, Ontario Soccer Association, Ontario Tennis Association, Ontario Volleyball Association and Pickleball Ontario say the ban is offside.

“We represent a coalition of sports and recreation organizations across Ontario. We urge your government to take the advice of your own health experts and immediately reopen outdoor activities such as tennis, golf, basketball, pickleball, volleyball, soccer and others ”, they wrote in an open letter to Ford on Tuesday.

“There is … not a single documented COVID-19 infection in the world as a result of occasional outdoor interactions,” the sports officials continued.

“We understand the importance of reducing the strain on Ontario’s healthcare capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic and appreciate the significant burden you face when making decisions,” the representatives wrote. Of the industry.

“In fact, we believe it is essential that all Ontarians continue to take this virus very seriously and adhere to protocols designed to protect public health. This is also our goal, ”they continued.

“At the same time, we cannot overestimate the mental health crisis our children and youth face, as well as the alarming studies and reports emerging on the mental and physical well-being of adults.”

Listen to Dr Sumon Chakrabarti discuss the COVID risk outdoors

They stressed that “this is largely due to hopelessness, lack of physical activity and the inability of individuals to participate in normal activities of daily living, especially outdoors”.

The letter was signed by Paul Osland, CEO of Athletics Ontario; Golf Ontario General Manager Mike Kelly; Johnny Misley, CEO of the Ontario Soccer Association; Ontario Tennis Association President and CEO James Boyce; Ontario Volleyball Association Executive Director Jo-Anne Ljubicic; and Pickleball Ontario President Peter Milovanovic.

Ford said last Thursday that its restrictions on sports activities were designed to “limit mobility” in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 8,500 Ontarians.

In the Legislature on Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said it was not yet time to “open the exterior for all recreational facilities” as hospital intensive care units are still under pressure from patients with COVID-19.

“But we encourage everyone to get outside to take advantage of the warm weather. The parks are open. Please use them. Please go for a walk, a run. Walk your dog. Take your children and grandchildren out. We want people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, ”said Elliott.

“We still have high levels of hospitalizations, a high number of people in our intensive care units. We want to make sure that when people come out they use the appropriate public safety measures that we have asked people to do and that they have been doing since last year, ”she said.

Independent MP Roman Baber (York Center), kicked out of the Conservative caucus by Ford in January for opposing the lockdown measures, said “it would all be funny if it weren’t tragic for our children” eager to play sports.

“Doctors have already told them the outside is safe,” Baber told the Legislature, pointing to the PC benches where he used to sit.

“They don’t have to wait for this. So when will you surrender, own your failure, and open up to the great outdoors? ”

Robert Benzie is the Bureau Chief of Star’s Queen’s Park and a journalist covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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