The Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) has announced that it has cancelled the upcoming 2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement of the cancellation of the WLA season — in conjunction with Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) in Ontario — will mark the second consecutive year that the pandemic halted league play and the national championship.
Both leagues say they were hoping to delay the start of the regular season, which would have kicked off in July, with the national championship being held in September.
Commissioners of both leagues, however, have decided that a return to play would not be “possible or responsible” in 2021.
The major factors in the decision by the WLA came down to statements from British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, suggesting that it is unlikely restrictions on large indoor public gatherings will be lifted this summer.
Current rules in British Columbia also restrict indoor adult sporting activities to a maximum of two participants.
Travel restrictions in British Columbia, which have banned non-essential movement between health authorities, also make it difficult for players to travel to their summer clubs, while the reduced number of BC Ferries sailings affect team’s abilities to travel between Vancouver Island and the mainland.
“While we know this is a huge disappointment for everyone involved in lacrosse — in particular, our players, coaches and dedicated fans — we are committed to doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID19, and our primary responsibility is the health and safety of the competitors, volunteers and thousands of spectators who would contribute to the success of the Mann Cup,” said WLA commissioner, Paul Dal Monte.
“This decision to cancel was not taken lightly and is a reflection of the gravity of the situation the world, including the world of sports, currently faces.”
According to the Western Lacrosse Association, this will be just the second time the Mann Cup will not be awarded since the modern era began in 1926.
In the most recent Mann Cup, in 2019, the Peterborough (Ont.) Lakers won the national title over the host Victoria Shamrocks.