The Blue Jays are not allowed to play in Toronto due to COVID-19.
The Canadian government officially denied the team’s request to play in the city amid the pandemic which has forced Canada and the United States to extend the closure of their border until Aug. 20. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino released a statement Saturday.
“Unlike preseason training, regular-season games would require repeated cross-border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opponent teams into and out of Canada,” Mendicino said, via ESPN. “Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high.
“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. As a result, Canada will not be issuing a National Interest Exemption for the MLB’s regular season at this time.”
The Jays responded with a statement of their own, noting it’s working on “finalizing the best home location for the remainder of the 2020 season” and promising to “share an update as soon as it’s available.”
?From the onset of discussions with league and government officials, the safety of the broader community ? our fans ? and the team remained the priority of everyone involved, and with that, the club completely respects the federal government?s decision,? Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said in a statement. ?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. We cannot wait until the day comes that we can play in front of our fans again on Canadian soil.?
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 18, 2020
Several sources suggested the home of the team’s Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons could potentially play host to the Jays, though nothing has been confirmed. The club’s first home game is July 29, giving the team a little extra time to sort out the logistics.
The Jays are expected to kick off their season Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.