Canada Puts New Travel Restrictions Into Place

The new measures will impact MLB and MLS 2021 plans.

Canada has tightened up its border because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian government announced it will not allow any cruise ships at local ports until February 28th, 2022 and while this does not impact sports, there are other measures that have been implemented that may preclude Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer from staging games in the country. As of February 22nd, all international air travelers into the country must quarantine at hotels near airports in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver but before that there is a series of COVID-19 tests travelers have to take to get on a plane. This more than likely will impact Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays and the three Major League Soccer teams in Canada in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The National Hockey League has a Canadian division featuring the seven teams located in Canada playing one another. But the National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors franchise has relocated operations to Tampa, Florida and will play out the 2020-21 season in that city.

Not far from Tampa is Dunedin where the Toronto Blue Jays franchise has its spring training home. It is unlikely that the team will be able to stage any games in Toronto in the near future because every team that flies into Toronto will be coming from an American city and the border between the two countries remains shut. Dunedin could house the team once the season starts. In 2020, Toronto Blue Jays home games were held in Buffalo, New York with no spectators in the stands. It is possible that Blue Jays games could be held in Buffalo this season. Major League Soccer has the three franchise Canadian problem. Montreal and Toronto could end up playing in Tampa, an open MLS market. Vancouver could end up in Salt Lake City.

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Toronto Blue Jays’ Justin Smoak bats against the Boston Red Sox in a spring baseball exhibition game, Monday,March 12, 2018, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)