The Blue Jays have been denied permission to play their regular-season games in Canada this season due to the risk of potential spread of COVID-19, immigration minister Marco Mendicino announced Saturday. The Associated Press reported the news first:
TORONTO (AP) _ AP source says Blue Jays denied Canadian government approval to play games in Toronto amid pandemic.— Rob Gillies (@rgilliescanada) July 18, 2020
While the Blue Jays have been allowed to conduct their summer camp at Rogers Centre, the Canadian government determined that it would be too risky to allow regular-season games because American teams would consistently be crossing the border. Especially with the Blue Jays set to play teams like the Marlins and Rays that will be traveling from areas where major outbreaks are taking place, that would’ve seemed like a potential recipe for disaster in a country like Canada where the outbreak is mostly under control.
While there will be criticism of the country’s “hypocrisy” for allowing the NHL to host its restart exclusively in Canada while denying MLB the opportunity to host games, it should be noted that the two leagues’ return-to-play plans are significantly different. Hockey has a “bubble” concept where teams aren’t traveling back and forth, while baseball is basically proceeding as normal aside from regionalizing its schedule and prohibiting fans from ballparks.
We’ll now have to see where the Blue Jays decide to relocate (if anywhere) for the 2020 season. It would seem to be extremely unwise for them to try to play at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida when that state is experiencing such major difficulty containing COVID-19. With New York governor Andrew Cuomo making exceptions to his state’s otherwise very stringent COVID containment laws in order to accommodate the Yankees and Mets, their best bet might be trying to play at their Triple-A stadium, Sahlen Field, in Buffalo. Especially considering that the absence of fans will basically negate the concept of a home-field advantage this year, it wouldn’t be the most radical idea for the Blue Jays to play all their games on the road, either. After all, it’s not like they’re truly going to be “home” anyway if they play at an alternate site.