Canada Says No To Home Games For Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team won't be playing in Toronto this regular season after the Canadian government rejected a plan for the team to host home games there.
Due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus, the government said, it would not be safe for the team and opposing Major League Baseball teams to travel back and forth between the U.S. and Canada.
"Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for MLB regular season play would not adequately protect Canadians' health and safety," Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement Saturday.
Nonessential travel between the two countries has been restricted since March, and restrictions have been extended through at least most of August. Most people who do cross the border are required to quarantine for 14 days afterward.
The government said it would not grant the team an exemption to those restrictions.
Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro said in a statement that the team "completely respects the federal government's decision."
"Though our team will not be playing home games at Rogers Centre this summer, our players will take the field for the 2020 season with the same pride and passion representative of an entire nation," he said. "We cannot wait until the day comes that we can play in front of our fans again on Canadian soil."
Toronto's city government and Ontario had already given approval for the Blue Jays to play on their home field, the Rogers Centre, in downtown Toronto. An earlier proposal involved opposing teams staying within a "bubble" of the Rogers Centre and the hotel next to it.
The federal government had already granted the team an exemption for preseason training at the Rogers Centre under the condition that members had to remain isolated at the field and adjoining facilities.
The other 29 MLB teams are all scheduled to play in their home stadiums, without spectators, for a 60-game season beginning on July 23.
The Blue Jays' season opener is on July 24 against the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida. Their home opener was originally scheduled for July 29 against the Washington Nationals.
The team also has a training facility in Dunedin, Fla., and will either host its regular season home games there or in Buffalo, N.Y., the Toronto Star reported.
The Canadian government said it remains "open to considering future restart plans for the post-season should the risk of virus transmission diminish."