The game was scheduled to be played Friday in Halawa, Hawaii, a suburb of Honolulu.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is the most important part of this decision,” Hawaii athletics director David Matlin said in a statement. “The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has forced us to not participate in the game.
“We are disappointed for our players, coaches, and fans. ESPN and the EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl staff did everything they could for us and we appreciate their valiant effort throughout the week. We want to thank the Memphis Tigers for making the long trip to Hawai’i. We are disappointed we can’t compete on the football field.”
Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield expressed disappointment as well.
“We hope that Hawai’i players and staff get healthy soon,” he said in a statement. “I’m upset for our seniors and the rest of the team that battled this season to earn this opportunity. We’ve had [a] terrific time here in Hawai’i as a program and we are sad our trip ended this way.”
Hawaii joins Texas A&M as teams unable to compete in bowls this season as a result of COVID-19 issues.
“While we are disappointed that the bowl will not be played despite considerable efforts from our many stakeholders, sponsors, supporters, and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this game a reality,” ESPN said in a statement. “We thank the University of Memphis program and its fans for making the long trip, and we hope they were able to enjoy the unique experience that this event offers in the Aloha state.”
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.