A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada
A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Canada's health minister says he expects the country to reach a time in the COVID-19 pandemic when provinces consider implementing a broader vaccine mandate to counter rising cases. Jean-Yves Duclos told a COVID-19 briefing on Friday that such a measure was not currently being contemplated in Canada, but his personal opinion was that the country would get there at some point. Given how fragile the health-care system is in Canada and its aging population, Duclos said he thinks that type of measure will be considered by provinces over the next weeks and months.
Like other university athletes in Ontario, Japhet John won't have the chance to compete or train for most of January.
John is a fourth-year geography student at Algoma University, and a competitive wrestler.
Due to an injury early in the season, he missed out on three competitions at other universities last year.
And with new provincial COVID-19 restrictions, which came into effect on Jan. 5, he will be unable to compete, or train indoors, until Jan. 26.
"It's really frustrating because a lot of sports already had their seasons when there was a drop in COVID (cases)," John said.
Ontario's varsity athletes won't be able to compete or train indoors while the restrictions are in place, but some professional and "elite" amateur athletes will be able to continue with their respective sports.
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The province's "return-to-play" framework includes a list of athletes and leagues that can continue indoor competition and training with strict safety measures in place.
The list includes athletes training for the Olympics, professional leagues such as the NHL, CFL and NBA, and some "elite" amateur leagues, including the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association.
But university athletes don't make the cut.
Video: Ontario student athletes losing out due to new COVID-19 restrictions (cbc.ca)
"I believe that we are elite athletes," John said, referring to himself and other students who compete in university athletics.
"We might not be considered professional, but we have put in a lot of work to kind of get to the level that we're at," he added.
Recent positive COVID-19 tests have James, Radford unsure if they'll skate at trials
The final few weeks of Olympic preparation are pressure enough, says figure skater Eric Radford. Now Canada's elite athletes have the spectre of COVID-19 threatening to derail their Olympic dreams before they even get to Beijing. Radford and pairs partner Vanessa James are recovering from COVID-19 that could keep them out of the Canadian championships and Olympic trials this week in Ottawa. And the fact they've already had the virus might make them two of the lucky ones. "Preparing for any competition, and especially the Olympics is difficult enough," Radford said. "It's one of the most stressful times of an athlete's life.
Peter Hellstrom, Laurentian University's director of athletics, said he was baffled by the province's decision not to include university athletes on its list of exceptions.
"There's a lack of knowledge and understanding of how elite these student athletes are," he said. "I'm not sure where the government's missing the boat on the elite side of things, but it's disappointing."
Hellstrom said former Laurentian students have gone on to have successful careers in sport, such as Olympic rower Carling Zeeman and Kadre Gray, who plays for the Ottawa BlackJacks of the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
He added many of the amateur leagues that made the province's list feed athletes into university athletics. Many OHL and Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association players, for example, go on to play for university teams later in their careers.
Two-time Canadian Olympian hopes to fight climate change on IOC Athletes' Commission
Two-time Canadian Olympian Seyi Smith is aiming to fight climate change on the global stage. Smith, 34, is running for election to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Athletes' Commission, where he hopes to lead Olympians from across the world in promoting sustainability. "I want to help athletes lead the race to zero. We can be players in the biggest comeback story the world has ever seen," the Ottawa native said. Smith is a candidate for one of two open spots on the commission, which will be voted on by athletes at the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
Hellstrom said he accepts that university athletes should not be competing while there is a surge in COVID-19 cases across the province, but they should be able to train.
"We probably have more protocols in place, and are better at the guidelines, than some of the leagues listed on that list," he said.
Decisions based on medical advice
In an email to CBC News, Ontario Premiere Doug Ford's office said decisions related to the province's return-to-play framework were based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
"Our government is doing everything possible to blunt the transmission of COVID-19 and the rapidly spreading Omicron variant," said press secretary Alexandra Adamo in the email.
"These time-limited measures will help in our fight against this virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed."
Canadian athletes head to Beijing despite tense China-Canada relationship .
Canada's athletes head to Beijing's Winter Games amid troubling tensions between their country and host China. China's recent detention of two Canadians for almost three years, and its treatment of one of its own star athletes, hit close to home for Canadian athletes amid the broader criticisms of China's human rights record, which have increased in volume as they did ahead of Beijing's 2008 Summer Games. Canada joining a handful of other nations — the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Denmark — in a diplomatic boycott of Beijing's Olympic opening ceremonies further salts Sino-Canadian relations.