The Latest: Virus variants keep Ontario Hockey League idle

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) celebrates with defenseman Jeremy Davies (38) after the Predators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) celebrates with defenseman Jeremy Davies (38) after the Predators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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Ontario’s minister of sport says it would be “irresponsible” to give the OK for the Ontario Hockey League to start its season right now.

Sports Minister Lisa MacLeod said Thursday the province was days away from approving the OHL’s plan to return to play in late March when the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic began in earnest in the province. She said that although she had been hopeful there would be an OHL season, there was no way to justify the league returning given how quickly variants of the virus can spread.

The OHL is the only major junior league under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella that hasn't begun its season. The Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League have played modified schedules this year.

The CHL canceled the Memorial Cup, Canada’s major junior championship, on Tuesday. It had been scheduled to be held in Ontario, which reported a record-high 4,736 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 29 more deaths linked to the virus.

MacLeod said any resumption of play would have to be approved by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

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