With just 11-days before the Toronto Blue Jays open the home portion of their 60-game Major League Baseball (MLB) season, the team has been told to find a new place to play ball.
The federal government on Saturday rejected the Blue Jays request to play home games at Rogers Centre during the pandemic.
“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,” Marco Mendicino, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said in a statement. “As a result, Canada will not be issuing a National Interest Exemption for the MLB’s regular season at this time.”
Of particular concern,” he continued, “the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high.”
The Blue Jays are to open the season July 24 in Tampa Bay. Florida continues to see record new cases of COVID-19 on a daily basis.
Toronto’s home opener is July 29 against Washington.
Mendicino did leave the door open to the Blue Jays playing games in Toronto if they advanced to the playoffs and the risk of the virus spreading had eased.
MLB’s plan was to have Toronto travel to the U.S. for road games and visiting teams cross north of the border to play the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays and visiting teams would have been isolated at the hotel attached to the stadium.
The Blue Jays had prepared for a thumbs down from Ottawa and could play their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo.