Gym owners and athletes struggle with Quebec's decision to halt sports

Not too long ago, Khaleb Elbassat's boxing gym was forced to shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he's right back where he started. 

Gyms in red zones on the province's regional COVID-19 alert map will have to close for at least 20 days starting on Thursday, the Quebec government announced on Monday afternoon. 

"It’s going to be really, really hard. I don’t know how me or other of my friends that own gym will be able to survive it," said Elbassat, who owns Urban Legends Boxing. "For small gyms like us, we are controlling how many people come in. It’s not like big places where 100 people come a day." 

Sports teams are also being forced to put their seasons on hold. 

For North Shore Football, these rules come right in the middle of its schedule. 

"From the volunteers and the coaches to get everything ready. Lots of hours that we all put in," said Italo Melotti from North Shore Football. "We start sometimes in April just to get ready for a season that starts games in August." 

School sports are also on hold -- but students in sports-etudes can still practice within their class bubbles. 

"It’s really about having fewer occasions for kids for people to get together so we want to limit those contacts so that kids don’t get the COVID and don’t go back into school and contaminate the other kids," said Isabelle Charest, the Quebec minister responsible for sports. 

The Quebec Student Sports Federation is hoping that these restrictions will help athletes adopt better sanitary habits. 

"Football they play with a mouthpiece often between sets, between downs they take off their mouthpiece and they hold it in their hands," said Stephane Boudreau of RSEQ. "So that’s no longer possible." 

For some gyms, shutting down is the worst possible outcome. 

"If the government said, 'Ok you’re allowed just five people' -- for me five clients are better than nothing," Elbassat said. 

The government has promised gym owners financial support, but there's no guarantee business will return to normal after Oct. 28.  


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