Ford says plan that would see Jays play home games in Toronto given clearance
Published Thursday, July 16, 2020 4:42PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 16, 2020 8:02PM EDT
Premier Doug Ford says the province has given clearance for a plan that would allow the Blue Jays to play home games at the Rogers Centre this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press briefing this afternoon in Chatham, Ont., Ford said that after discussions with federal, provincial and municipal health officers, the province is giving the team approval to play “even if it's in an empty stadium."
The remarks come after Ontario's Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod told TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa on Thursday that the plan had been given a nod.
In the interview, Macleod did acknowledge that there are some concerns with U.S. teams crossing the border during the pandemic.
“There will be significant testing and there will be obviously, just as we've done with the other professional sports, high-grade sanitation level of cleanliness that's required,” Macleod told TSN Radio 1200.
Some critics have questioned whether it’s appropriate to make travel and other exceptions for professional sports teams, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. is still far from bringing the pandemic under control.
Toronto Mayor John Tory commented on the announcement this afternoon at a press briefing and said there are strict rules in place to ensure everyone remains safe.
“There is one of the most extensive protocols I’ve ever seen to provide for keeping people safe in the City of Toronto, and all around the Rogers Centre, and to keeping players safe and keeping residents safe as well,” Tory said. “...And if that is the case then I don’t know why we wouldn’t be happy to see our Blue Jays, Canada’s team, Toronto’s team playing in their own home stadium.”
Although the provincial government has given the plan the green light, the federal government still has to approve it, as well as the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says in a statement that the federal government is still reviewing the Blue Jays' and Major League Baseball's plan for regular season games.
The Jays tell CP24 that they have not received written approvals from the government and public health officials yet.
The team returned to Toronto last week to start training camp at the Rogers Centre.
Toronto’s first home game of the year is scheduled for July 29 when the Jays are set to take on the Washington Nationals.