Announced in a statement on Saturday, the Blue Jays have been denied approval by Canada’s federal government to play in Toronto for the 2020 season.
Marco Mendicino, Canada’s Immigration Minister, confirmed their request for play had been denied amid coronavirus pandemic concerns.
After being given approval to play by city and other provincial governments, the team was waiting for approval from the Canadian government. The Blue Jays were hoping to return to regular-season games at Rogers Centre.
Mendicino claims that regular-season games would raise a high risk for athletes and staff as constant travel is involved. The team’s players and staff would usually make most of their trips across the Canadian border, specifically to places where COVID-19 cases remain at high levels.
A National Interest Exemption would be required for the team to be allowed to travel for regular-season games. Mendicino has emphasized that the request has been denied to better protect the organization’s players and employees.
According to reports, the team was informed via a phone call about the decision. Their in-state site for home games is in Dunedin, Fla.
The training facility is located in one of the biggest hot spots for coronavirus cases today. Players have been generous in sharing their preference in remaining in Toronto.
Mendicino explained that the decision is subject to change if COVID-19 risks begin to lessen. They would most definitely consider a postseason restart and hope the Blue Jays can have as regular a season as possible amid the circumstances.
For the Blue Jays to be allowed to travel, they would need an exemption from the federal government to enter the U.S. for nonessential reasons. They would need to quarantine for 14 days after travel due to coronavirus safety regulations.
The border between the U.S. and Canada will remain closed until Aug. 21.
In Other News
As COVID-19 cases continue to grow in the U.S., it does not appear to be the safest choice for any MLB team to travel, especially cross-border.
Canadian citizens are not at high risk of contracting the illness as Canada proved to manage the coronavirus much better than the U.S.
The Blue Jays were originally scheduled to play at Tampa Bay on July 24 to start their season. They were also set to play their home opener on July 29 against Washington.
Because of travel restrictions, the team had received an exemption for summer camp. During this time, they are required to stay isolated in a hotel near Rogers Centre to create a quarantined environment.
Much like the NBA bubble, players are required to stay within the property’s boundaries and can be fined by the government if they do not follow safety protocols.
It will be interesting to see how the Blue Jays will adapt to their new season. It is possible circumstances could change, considering the rapid pace in which COVID-19 has evolved.