Blue Jays won't be allowed to play home games in Toronto this year
Unlike the NBA and NHL, which have resumed practices and gameplay this season using a bubble/hub city model, the MLB's plan for the 2020 season includes significantly more travel of players between various cities.
Up until today there was reason to believe games would be held in Toronto.
But that prospect was shot down today by the federal government who barred the idea on the grounds that letting players travel across the border from the United States into Canada was just too risky.
It was a startling reverse-course after Ontario Premier Doug Ford revealed in his media briefing on Thursday that his team had cleared the Blue Jays to play home games at the Rogers Centre.
Ford told reporters that Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, had approved the idea, which he added also had the support of Toronto Mayor John Tory, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland and others.
Ontario's top health official, Dr. David Williams, also consulted on the matter.
"I think we need a little bit of sports back on television and I can't wait to watch the Blue Jays," Ford said. "If you've seen the protocol for MLB, I think it's 150 pages... talk about strict. They have great protocol and great guidelines for the players to follow."
Still, the decision ultimately needed to be made by the federal government, and it was known that some officials in Ottawa had concerns about the plan.
It would have seen both home and visiting players posted up at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel attached to the Rogers Centre where the Jays are currently in lockdown for Summer Camp.
There had at least been some revisions to the proposal, which initially did not call for players to have to quarantine for 14 days despite the fact that all other travelers coming into the country must do so — but still, Canadian Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo had expressed apprehension.
"Who knows what the potential exposure risk is for visiting teams?" Njoo said at a press conference on Tuesday, noting that there are many risk factors for Blue Jays players travelling to the U.S. for games, as well as for anyone coming into contact with players coming to Toronto from the U.S. where their living situations and isolation protocols may not be known.
"There is a major issue as far as the travel back and forth across the U.S. border."
As the world knows by now, there are a number of states where COVID-19 outbreaks are quite serious, and still worsening.
The Jays are scheduled to play their home opener against the Washington Nationals on July 29 following the start of the MLB season on July 23.
Now, that game is said to be happening in either Buffalo or Dunedin, although the Blue Jays have not yet announced which of the two cities it will play home games in this season.
In a statement released by the Toronto Blue Jays after the federal government's decision was announced, the team thanked the various levels of government for their "consideration and partnership throughout this process" and said they will announce the location of the home location for the 2020 season "as soon as it is available."
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