Bodychecking will be prohibited in OHL to prevent spread of COVID-19 during 2021 season

No hitting in hockey.

One of the biggest staples of the sport of hockey will not be happening in a major Canadian junior league this upcoming season. The Ontario Hockey League decided Friday that bodychecking would not be allowed in games this coming season.

This decision was confirmed by Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of sport, according to a report from the Canadian press. The reasoning behind such a drastic change to the game comes from the global pandemic that’s been changing sports for months now. Per MacLeod, removing that level of physical contact from the sport this season is an important step towards preventing the coronavirus from spreading among players, coaches, and others who may be around games.

This move also echoes the sentiment that the Ontario official shared earlier this month with regards to how hockey should return.

“It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19,” said MacLeod, per the Canadian Press. “That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play.”

Three of the OHL’s 20 teams are located in the United States — Flint (Mich.) Firebirds, Saginaw (Mich.) Spirit, and Erie (Pa.) Otters — which has had a significantly worse outbreak of COVID-19 than Canada has. Not only that, but two of the Canadian-based OHL teams are also located in parts of the country where a second wave was particularly strong. Those clubs are the Ottawa 67’s and Mississauga Steelheads.

This news follows an announcement on Thursday where the OHL revealed its plans to start a shortened season beginning on Feb. 4, 2021.