Save Gymnastics Clubs in Ontario!

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Please help save Ontario Gymnastics Clubs! Return to phase 2 will begin the demise of clubs in Ontario.

In Ontario, the Gymnastics Community is comprised of over 250 small businesses which are run by their owners/coaches in school gymnasiums, church halls or their own facilities. Enrolment has been severely affected by Covid-19 since the beginning of this season following the shutdown in March.

Clubs have implemented all the guidelines that the Ministry of Health has recommended since the beginning of the pandemic when we were permitted to open in Stage 1. Most sanitary guidelines were already in place due to the nature of this sport. For rhythmic gymnastics in particular, all gymnasts are required to purchase their own apparatus which are brought to the gym and taken home by each gymnast.

Fortunately, we have not heard of any clubs closing due to the spread of COVID-19 within their own club since Phase 1 was introduced earlier this year. The gymnasts are the same ages of the children who are allowed to attend school with and without masks; 4 years to 18 years of age. Owners therefore strongly believe that the Ministry of Health should permit gymnasts to attend training at their clubs with the same provisions that are made for children attending Elementary and Secondary schools in the province.

With this roll-back to Stage 2 for gymnastics clubs, we are told to limit the number of gymnasts in one room at any time to 10. This is different than the rules we had experienced when we were in Stage 2 back in July. If rolling back, it should be to what we had already had in place during Stage 2 rather than a complete change in the guidelines. As well, it is not logical that the same 10 people limit should apply to spaces no matter the size whether it is a 500 sq.ft studio or a 5,000-10,000 sq.ft gymnasium.

Additionally, the 10 person limit is only for competitive athletes. All recreational programs must come to a halt for the 28-day period. Thus, clubs with only recreational gymnasts must completely shutdown. 

The 10 person limit is not feasible for any club to stay in business. If these restrictions continue, the sport of Rhythmic Gymnastics (an Olympic sport) will cease to exist in Canada. It has taken over 8 decades to build this sport in Canada! It will affect the other disciplines such as Acrobatics, Trampoline and Artistic Gymnastics as well.

Gymnastics, or any sport in fact, is an important aspect in children’s physical & mental well-being. During this time, children need some normalcy. A place to feel joy, share their successes and disappointments with their team, a place to strive to be their personal best, a place to build friendships for life and a place that feels like a second home.

In front of our own eyes, we have seen the transformation of children since lockdown to now. The anxiety and stress kids were forced to navigate when they first returned was unbearable to witness and through these months back in the gym, parents have commented on how much happier the kids are since they returned to the gym, the increase in smiles they've witnessed, and the reduction in anxiety felt by the kids. The biggest role of coaches is to support our athletes & always will be. They need us now more than ever!

The gymnastics clubs are appealing to the Minister of Health, Minister of Sport and the Premier of Ontario to reconsider not penalizing these small business owners and to allow them to stay open and operate with guidelines set for public schools or at the minimum, rollback to the same guidelines we had in place during Stage 2.

We thank you for your time.