Toronto Mayor John Tory said on Tuesday, May 5th, that there have been preliminary talks with Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays and the NBA’s Raptors about a return to action as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.
Tory said the city is working with the Ontario provincial government on decision making regarding the Raptors and said: “things are moving forward quite nicely.” Tory did not provide any details on the discussions. The NBA is planning to open its training facilities on Friday, but government approval is required.
In regards to his discussions with the Blue Jays and Raptors, Tory said "I expect there will be some news to report on that in a way again that is going to be consistent in making sure our team and our players [will not] be put at a competitive disadvantage. But at the same time respecting completely the imperatives we have concerning public health and stopping the spread of COVID-19."
With Major League Baseball seemingly inching closer towards a workable plan to get the 2020 season underway, Blue Jays executives approached Mayor Tory. In Tory’s discussions with the Blue Jays, he said the two sides have discussed the possibility of being able to play games “here or elsewhere” when the season returns. Tory added that these discussions are at a preliminary level and that all plans are contingent on a significant decrease of COVID-19 cases in Canada and the United States, and the status of the Canada/United States border.
With the majority of Blue Jays players currently residing outside of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said non-Canadian residents entering the country would “at a strict minimum” need to follow quarantine protocols. He mentioned that they would be required to quarantine in a set location, such as a hotel. The only exception would be if they had a credible quarantine plan in place.
Arriving in Canada from abroad then going to play at Rogers Center and being surrounded by other people, even if there are no fans on the stands, does not constitute a credible quarantine plan in my eyes. With that being said, the only hope that the Blue Jays would be able to play home games in 2020, is if a COVID-19 vaccine or solution is discovered before the MLB season starting.
The possibility of this happening is very low, and this could be the reason why the Blue Jays, the only Canadian team in the Majors, would not be able to play games at home, at least at the beginning of the season. The Blue Jays may have to be situated in the United States for the duration of the season.
The MLB is exploring various scenarios that could make the 2020 MLB season a reality if the number of COVID-19 cases goes down. One of their many plans includes splitting the 30 teams into three regional divisions. The teams would only play in their respective division to reduce travel.
A representative from the federal government could not be reached immediately for comment on this situation. Representatives from the Blue Jays also did not immediately respond to emails from the Canadian Press.
The MLB intends to begin its season in late June or early July, and the Blue Jays would be able to resume play either “here or elsewhere”, contingent on the number of COVID-19 cases going down and the status of the Canada/United States border. Also, players coming from abroad to Canada to play sports would have to follow strict quarantine measures and all players would have to follow a lot of new rules to help contain the spread of the virus.