Blue Jays is not allowed to play in Canada

TORONTO (AP) – The Blue Jays have been denied Canadian government approval to play in Toronto amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced in a statement Saturday that the federal government had denied the request, confirming what an official familiar with the matter had told The Associated Press earlier. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak prior to the announcement.

Municipal and provincial governments gave the team permission to play regular-season games at the Rogers Center and were awaiting approval from the Canadian federal government.

“Unlike preseason training, regular season games would require repeated cross-border travel by Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opposing teams inside and outside of Canada. Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would have to play in places where the risk of transmission of the virus remains high, “said Mendicino.

Based on the best public health advice available, we have concluded that the cross-border travel required for the MLB regular season game would not adequately protect the health and safety of Canadians. As a result, Canada will not issue a national interest exemption for the MLB regular season at this time. “

The Blue Jays were informed via phone call. The team’s alternative home gaming site is its training center in Dunedin, Florida, one of the states most affected by the virus. The players have said they preferred to play in Toronto.

“We have shared this news with the Blue Jays organization. We remain open to considering future postseason restart plans in case the risk of virus transmission decreases. We wish the Blue Jays the best of luck as the regular season begins, ”said Mendicino.

MLB needed an exemption from the requirement that anyone entering Canada for non-essential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days. The border between the United States and Canada remains closed to non-essential travel until at least August 21.

COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States, while Canada has flattened the epidemic curve.

The NHL received a waiver for its season restart, but that was a much simpler case because games are restricted to two centers: Edmonton and Toronto.

The Blue Jays are slated to start the season on July 24 at Tampa Bay. Their first game was set for five days later against Washington.

The Blue Jays received a waiver for the summer camp, during which the players agreed to isolate themselves at the hotel attached to the Rogers Center and create a quarantine environment. Players cannot leave the stadium or hotel, and violators face fines of up to $ 750,000 Canadians ($ 551,000 US) and up to six months in jail.


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