Sask. decision to move up resumption of outdoor sports the result of multiple requests: premier

·3 min read
Premier Scott Moe says the decision allow outdoor sports to play games starting on May 30 was swayed by requests from many people.  (Matt Duguid/CBC Saskatchewan - image credit)
Premier Scott Moe says the decision allow outdoor sports to play games starting on May 30 was swayed by requests from many people. (Matt Duguid/CBC Saskatchewan - image credit)

Saskatchewan's premier says the decision to bump up the resumption of outdoor sports to the end of the month was the result of input from health experts and requests from people across the province.

The provincial government announced Tuesday that outdoor sports would be able to resume playing games on Sunday.

Outdoor sports were originally part of Step 2 of the province's provincial reopening plan, but are now part of Step 1, which will come into effect May 30.

In a new conference on Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe said children and youth have had to repeatedly sacrifice fun and enjoyment in the name of safety during this pandemic.

"It's among the highest priorities to reduce the impacts of this pandemic on our youth," said Moe.

He said, "many, many people" have requested sports be allowed to resume in conversations with him.

Mike Thomas, lead convener for the Regina Youth Flag Football League, was among the parents and sport organizers overjoyed by the announcement.

"We were super excited and hopeful that we would have heard this a little bit sooner. But, you know, at the end of the day, it's a lot better than when the initial date was supposed to be," he told CBC's The Morning Edition on Wednesday.

The organization had been able to hold games last fall, but missed out on holding competitions in spring 2020 due to the restrictions in place at the time.

Seagulls take advantage of an empty baseball field due to provincial COVID-19 restrictions May 3, 2021, in Ottawa.
Seagulls take advantage of an empty baseball field due to provincial COVID-19 restrictions May 3, 2021, in Ottawa.(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Thomas said the league's spring program is among the largest in Canada, with nearly 2,900 kids registering.

While he isn't expecting that many to register this year, he said he believes they'll get somewhere around 2,500 athletes.

"We're very thankful that a lot of families still stuck with us through all of this and waited it out as we did," Thomas said. "The reward was bountiful, as we now get to start doing things essentially as a team component on Sunday,"

There will still be rules and restrictions in place for outdoor sports when they resume. They include a ban on tournaments and compliance with gathering limits, which are set to expand to 150 people as of May 30.

The full list of rules can be found online here.

Dwayne Bidyk, the president of Baseball Regina, said the organization is ready to get kids back out on the ball diamond.

"We took a little bit of a hit last year, just with the complete uncertainty of what COVID really is. Now we're back to to our pre-COVID numbers, which is great."

Bidyk said the return to competitive outdoor sports will mark a step in the return to normal for many children.

Residents looking forward to competitive indoors sport will need to wait just a bit longer for Step 2 of the province's plan. It is slated to come into effect three weeks after Step 1 begins.