ontario sports

Raptors and Maple Leafs are now allowed to start practicing in Toronto again

Today is a great day for all the Raptors and Maple Leafs fans who've been anxiously awaiting any new development in the world of sports, because the provincial government just announced that professional sport training facilities are permitted to reopen starting today. 

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, issued a statement on the matter Friday morning and said sport training facilities will be permitted to reopen, provided their respective sports leagues have established health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19. 

"Our top priority remains the health and safety of all Ontarians. As we prepare for a safe and gradual reopening of the economy, we have been working closely with public health experts and our professional sport teams to prepare for a return to play when it is safe to do so," she said. 

She added that we must do everything possible to stop the spread of the virus within the province, but we also now have to work toward gradually reopening the economy.  

Adding that sport represents more than $12.6 billion to Ontario's economy and thousands of jobs across the province, MacLeod said it is a critical sector for the province. 

"We are pleased to see professional sports teams take a leading role in producing new rigorous protocols to keep their athletes safe, while allowing them to train in a voluntary and individualized manner," she said.

"We look forward to seeing our athletes return to play in the not-too-distant future."

Meanwhile, as a result of this news, the Toronto Raptors released a list of safeguards that will be in place for any players who choose to access the OVO Athletic Centre starting May 11. 

The list of safety measures indicates that access to the facility is only intended to allow players to have time on the court for activities that generally cannot be done at home, such as shooting. 

It also says locker rooms, weight rooms, medical facilities, offices and other areas of the building will remain closed.

The team says only one player will be allowed inside the building at a time, and they'll be accompanied by one coach without any overlap between groups.

"Staff members will wear gloves and masks at all times when in the building. Players will wear masks at all times except when on court," the statement reads.

"A thorough cleaning of all spaces and equipment, including basketballs, will take place before and after each player uses the building. Symptom and temperature checks will be done by team medical staff before anyone enters the facility."

The statement also says no media, members of the public or general staff will be granted access to the building, and security will be in place outside the facility to ensure physical distancing and the safety of everyone on site.

"The Toronto Raptors and MLSE, working closely with local government, infectious disease experts and public health authorities, will be facilitating limited access to OVO Athletic Centre for player workouts in line with league guidance," the team said in the statement.

"Strict protocols have been designed to ensure this initial level of access will take place in a safe, controlled, and healthy way."

As for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they'll have to wait a little while longer before getting back to work, because the NHL has yet to allow any of its teams to resume training. 

"It means they can reopen when we allow all teams to reopen," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Postmedia in an email Friday morning. "We’re not there yet."

Lead photo by

Toronto Raptors 

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