Intermediate school-age students could still compete in their chosen sports this year - just not on the big stage of the AIMS Games.
Last week, AIMS Games organisers announced the cancellation of this year's event.
Tournament director Vicki Semple said it was the hardest decision the AIMS Games trustees have had to make in the 17-year history of the event but the Covid-19 global pandemic had made hosting the Tauranga-based tournament untenable.
"We've spent the past two months going through every possible scenario and agonising over what this decision means to our athletes, our schools, our supporters, our sponsors, local businesses and our contractors," Semple said.
"The stark reality is that we just couldn't confidently host more than 11,000 athletes in September while upholding the high standards of wellbeing we've set in previous years.
And this pandemic is so much bigger than sport - not only have we had to weigh up things like training and preparation lead-ins for athletes but we've considered the likely economic impact on families and how prepared they are to send their kids away for a week with uncertainty hanging over them. There are still just so many unknowns and no one really knows how this is all going to play out."
Te Puke Intermediate School sports co-ordinator Cam Black said while the cancellation is devastating, it is also understandable.
''We've got to follow the guidelines and this year it can't happen,'' he said.
About 110 Te Puke Intermediate School students competed at last year's AIMS Games.
''We had about 15 different codes so while some of them are one-off days like cross-country, some of the more traditional ones are five-day sports - rugby and netball are pretty big.
''The sport is one of the highlights - but it's not just that, it's also the camaraderie and they'll miss that too.''
Black said the hope is that there will be other opportunities created for the students.
''Schools have already been talking and I'm trying to organise something for our Year 8 students, especially. Our Year 7s will play as well, but it's the Year 8s who are leaving us at the end of the year who will miss out otherwise.
''It's important to put something else in there that we can do safely, following the guidelines.''
He said it is possible there may be events involving schools from the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Poverty Bay or the Waikato.
''At the moment we are just looking at options and exploring new territory really.
Everybody loves sports and we'll just crack on with something on a slightly smaller scale.''
In better news, winter sports competitions are due to start in mid-June.
''It will be a short season so as not to encroach on the summer sports, but it will give us 10-12 weeks, which isn't too bad. It could be a lot worse, we could have nothing.''
Pongakawa School principal Craig Haggo said cancelling a major sports event is always sad, especially one that the school has done well at over the years.
''But there are times when people's health overrides things like sport and this is one of those occasions and I think Vicki Semple and the team have made the right decision in the context of where we are as a country.''
He said the school is looking at the possibility of staging sporting events for local schools in the TECT Pongakawa Action Centre.
''We'll be going out to the other local full primary schools and running some events with them and going back to [sports] interchanges.''
Haggo said while some of the school's Year 8s will now miss out on AIMS Games 2020, many of them competed as Year 7s last year.
''And I would think many of the school's current Year 7s will have the chance to compete in 2021.
For Te Ranga School principal Brendan Wilson the cancellation is bad news for the school and his family.
His daughter Kate missed AIMS Games last year with a broken arm and will once again miss out this year.
''So it was disappointing but totally understandable, but you can imagine that lots of Year 7 and 8s were looking forward to this. It's become a big part of the calendar year.''
He said Te Ranga has indoor bowls, badminton and hockey players and he would like to see sporting events arranged among the area's local full primary schools for Year 7 and 8 students.