Toronto mayor John Tory announced Tuesday a ban on public events until June 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the edict doesn’t apply to the city’s sports teams.
The defending NBA champion Raptors and the NHL’s Maple Leafs would have been wrapping up their regular seasons now, and baseball’s Blue Jays and Toronto FC of Major League Soccer would be early in their campaigns.
All of North America’s major sports leagues are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with return dates uncertain.
Tory’s ruling affects only events that require city permits.
“Many of the events we treasure, in our City, every year, will not be able to go ahead as scheduled this year,” Tory said Tuesday, adding “This is not an easy decision to make.”
Tory said the health and safety of residents is the top priority.
The ban also cancels the Pride Parade from June 26-28. The event is typically one of the largest in Canada each year.
Professional sports leagues are scrambling for ways to play their games, whether it be in front of no fans or playing a large number of games in locations in which the virus hasn’t hit in a major way.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that NBA officials have pondered playing in the Bahamas and turning a hotel ballroom into a playing court. It also has been reported that NBA teams and NHL clubs have been seeking arena availability in July and August.
The coronavirus pandemic started having a major effect on North American sports when Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11. Utah’s game was canceled that night, and the NBA followed by suspending its season. The NHL suspended its season the following day, with most mainstream sports quickly following suit.
—Field Level Media