The Canadian government has refused a request from the Toronto Raptors and the North American Professional Basketball League (NBA) to allow the squad to play their home matches in its new season which begins in December.
The AP learned from a government decision-making official Friday that the number of positive coronavirus cases in the United States remains too high for one Canadian league team to obtain special permission to host US competitors. The official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak about the government’s latest decision, added that there is a chance the government will review its current decision next year.
CBC has learned that the Raptors’ temporary home in the US will be in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Tuesday that their officials are in contact with birds of prey and are expected to consult with them on the matter for weeks to come. On the other hand, basketball team manager Bobby Webster said, they can’t delay the decision until then and they have to make it within days because only then can they plan for the season.
The borders of the United States and Canada are mainly closed due to the epidemic. Anyone entering Canada for unnecessary and urgent reasons must be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Of the 30 teams in the NBA, only one is Canada’s Toronto Raptors, which were founded in 1995 and 2019.
The next NBA season starts on December 22, with teams opening their training camps in approximately two weeks.
The Canadian government had previously rejected a similar request from the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team after health experts thought it was unsafe for the competing teams to come in line with one of the world’s most affected countries, the neighboring United States.
Hockey players are in a different position, as seven Canadian teams are interested in the NHL race, and a separate Canadian group is expected in the new season during the pandemic.