Island teams prepare for fan vaccine passports for indoor ticketed sports

Island sports teams have begun preparing to accept only fully vaccinated fans for indoor ­ticketed events, as per the ­vaccine passport details announced Tuesday by the ­provincial government.

“I am 100 per cent in favour of this and have no issues with it,” said Pete Zubersky, GM and co-owner of the Peninsula Panthers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, whose opening home game is Friday at Panorama Recreation Centre.

“The only way out of this ­pandemic is for everybody to get double vaccinated.”

That point was brought home when the VIJHL regular-season opening game, scheduled for tonight at The Q Centre between Westshore Wolves and Lake Cowichan Kraken, was ­postponed due to COVID-19 ­protocol regarding the Kraken.

“I’m all for it. We have to do our part in sports,” said Ian Birnie, director of player ­personnel for the Wolves.

At least one dose of vaccination will be required of entering fans beginning Sept. 13 and two doses beginning Oct. 24.

“I really look forward to seeing a hockey game in the fall or early next winter,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

“Let’s support our sports teams so we can get back to having those important things together. This vaccine card is another one of those tools that helps us do that.”

The Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League, who draw thousands more fans than the VIJHL, were asked about their reaction and how they plan to implement the vaccine-passport protocols for their spectators.

“We don’t have any ­comment right now. We will release further details in the coming weeks,” said Royals communications specialist Jessica Rochwerg, in an email Tuesday.

The B.C. vaccination passport policy for ticketed indoor sporting events was first announced Aug. 23.

“It’s nice of have clarity,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price, at that time. “Now we will work together with our fan base to provide a safe environment for them in the stands [at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre].”

University of Victoria athletic director Clint Hamilton was away Tuesday and unavailable for comment regarding Vikes basketball games this season at CARSA gym. Hamilton, however, told the Times ­Colonist last month when the vaccine ­passport was announced: “We will take appropriate ­measures operationally to make sure that we are meeting the ­requirements. Public safety has always been our No. 1 ­concern and we will do whatever is ­necessary.”

Premier John Horgan made the announcement: “The B.C. Vaccine Card is a way to get to those places where we want to be, at a sporting event or going to the theatre … large ­gatherings can take place with double vaccinations.”

The regulations are for ticketed indoor sporting events only, so will not affect parents, family or friends attending youth sports games.

The double-vaccination ­regulation also does not apply to outdoor sports such as Pacific FC games in the pro ­soccer Canadian Premier League or Canada’s rugby World Cup qualifier Oct. 2 against ­Uruguay or Chile, both at ­Starlight ­Stadium in Langford, or the ­University of Victoria Vikes Canada West soccer games beginning Friday and running through the fall at Centennial Stadium. Nor will it apply to the Westshore Rebels or ­Vancouver Island Raiders in the B.C. ­Football Conference this fall.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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