Canada Begins To Open Its Borders To Big Time Sports

Some teams are back.

Canada appears to be fully rejoining the world of major league sports after closing its borders because of COVID-19. The National Hockey League did operate with an all-Canadian division in 2020-2021 and Canada did allow the Las Vegas and Tampa Bay Lightning players, coaches and other staff into the country for the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Major League Soccer’s Montreal and Toronto franchises are playing before limited crowds in those two cities. Vancouver’s MLS team will continue playing games in Sandy, Utah through July 20th. Canada is thinking about opening up its border to vaccinated Americans in August. Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays franchise has a home stand opening on July 30th and that date could be the first time since 2019 that a Major League Baseball game will be played in Toronto.

Canada said no to MLB allowing games in the country in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Canadian government didn’t want Blue Jays games in Toronto because of the risk of spreading COVID-19 and the Blue Jays flying in and out of United States cities during the baseball season. Toronto home games have been held in Dunedin, Florida and Buffalo, New York. Major League Baseball continues to have COVID-19 problems with a New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game postponed on July 15th because of a COVID-19 cluster among New York Yankees personnel. It was the first COVID-19 related postponement in Major League Baseball in three months. The National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors franchise is eyeing a fall return to Toronto after playing the 2020-2021 season in Tampa, Florida. Nearly 80 percent of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and at least 53 percent are fully vaccinated. The U.S.-Canada border has been closed to all nonessential travel since March 2020.

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FILE – Members of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Detroit Tigers lineup before an opening day baseball game at Rogers Centre in Toronto, in this Thursday, March 28, 2019, file photo. Talks between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Canadian government have accelerated significantly and an exemption on border restrictions that would allow them to play in Canada starting July 30 may be possible, an official familiar with the talks told The Associated Press on Friday, July 16, 2021. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)