Assuming the Major League Baseball season goes on as scheduled this summer, the Toronto Blue Jays won't be able to play their home schedule in their usual stadium. According to the Associated Press, the Canadian government ruled on Saturday that the Blue Jays won't be able to stage any matchups in Canada.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the federal government viewed regular-season MLB games as far too problematic to allow them to be carried out. The announcement is a reversal of sorts from what the Blue Jays had been told previously. The franchise had gotten clearance from the city and provincial governments to play in the Rogers Centre and was waiting for federal officials to okay the plan as well.
The denial apparently came because the United States hasn't gotten its coronavirus infection rates under control. Mendicino said the issue wasn't the Blue Jays playing at the Rogers Centre, but rather where they'd be when they went on the road. There's also some concern about those who were coming into the country.
"Unlike preseason training, regular-season games would require repeated cross-border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opponent teams into and out of Canada. Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high," Mendicino said.
The Blue Jays reportedly knew traveling back and forth across the border could be problematic. The front office has considered playing its 2020 home schedule at its spring training site. The problem is that the site in Dunedin, Florida, is in a state where coronavirus infection rates have been skyrocketing. Members of the squad had made it clear they preferred to have their primary base of operations up north.
Canadian officials said they shared the rejection with the baseball team prior to the public statement. They also said the decision didn't necessarily include the postseason. They said that if the coronavirus pandemic has subsided to an acceptable degree, the Blue Jays might be allowed to engage in any postseason showdowns at the Rogers Centre.
Major League Baseball had applied for a special waiver required in order to enter Canadian territories. The country currently has a ban in place covering people crossing its borders unless it was for essential services. MLB does not qualify automatically but had been hoping it might get special dispensation for at least the few months that would be needed for the 60-game season.