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Guelph Storm's Alexey Toropchenko checks Prince Albert Raiders' Aliaksei Protas in second period 2019 Memorial Cup action in Halifax on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The Ontario Hockey League will not have bodychecking this coming season, according to Lisa MacLeod.

Ontario’s minister of sport said Friday afternoon in a speech delivered to the Empire Club of Canada that removing purposeful physical contact is a necessity for all sports in the province to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” MacLeod said. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”

The OHL announced on Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on Feb. 4, the last of Canada’s three major junior leagues to release a schedule.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season started earlier this month, but the schedule has been affected by several COVID-19 outbreaks as well as provincial government restrictions. After play was restricted to Maritimes Division teams the past two weeks, some Quebec teams are scheduled to resume play this weekend.

The Western Hockey League said earlier this month it plans to start its season on Jan. 8.

MacLeod said the decision to ban bodychecking was influenced by the outbreaks in the QMJHL.