Blue Jays cleared to play in Toronto by provincial officials, Ontario premier confirms
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have been given provincial clearance to play games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed Thursday afternoon.
The premier said the decision was made after discussions with medical officers of health.
Ford’s comments came shortly after the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod told TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa that the MLB team had been given the go ahead.
“Our first priority is the health and well-being of all Ontarians,” MacLeod said in a statement. “Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has approved professional sports plans submitted by the NHL and MLB to facilitate a safe return to play.”
According to MacLeod, these plans require players and staff to follow “strict quarantine and isolation protocols from the general public,” as well as provide public health authorities the ability to rescind the approval if protocols are not followed.
“We’ll continue to work with our federal counterparts and sports organizations to facilitate a safe return to play if athletes are permitted to cross the border.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Blue Jays said they are not confirming MacLeod’s statements at this time and noted that the club has not yet received the necessary written approvals from government and public health.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the government issued a national interest exemption to the league's players and staff for pre-season training. The government is still reviewing the plan for regular season games.
Speaking on Thursday afternoon, Mayor John Tory said he was pushing the federal and provincial governments to make this decision and noted that they were receptive because the protocols are “extensive” and will keep residents in the city, especially those surrounding the Rogers Centre, safe.
“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,” he said.
The team returned to Toronto last week to start training camp at the Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays’ season opener is scheduled to take place on July 24 in Tampa Bay. Their home opener is scheduled for July 29 against Washington.
The 2020 season has 60 games, down from the usual 162 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.