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Canadian government examines request for modified CFL quarantine for 2021 season

Canadian government examines request for modified CFL quarantine for 2021 season

The CFL cleared two more hurdles in its quest to return to the field in 2021.

An official with the Public Health Agency of Canada told The Canadian Press that the federal government has received the CFL’s request for a national interest exemption for the modified quarantine for the upcoming season. The official added that Ottawa is reviewing it in consultation with provincial health authorities.

The inclusion of negotiations with Ottawa, in addition to previous discussions with provincial health authorities, is a big step in the right direction for the league as it attempts to return to the field for the first time since 2019.

Basically, the CFL is asking Ottawa to give it the same exemptions it has for the NHL. The federal government waived its mandatory 14-day quarantine period for players acquired by Canadian NHL teams from American clubs “for reasons of national interest” before the league’s trade deadline of April 12 .

Under these terms, CFL players would observe a seven-day quarantine upon arrival in Canada and be subject to daily testing for COVID-19. Players would be eligible to adjust to their squads while continuing to undergo daily testing the following week.

Another positive step is the ratification of an amended collective agreement between the CFL and the CFL Players’ Association. Three sources told The Canadian Press that the two sides have come to an agreement in principle on an amended deal – it has been ratified by the union – that would once again pave the way for football’s return in 2021.

The sources were granted anonymity because the deal was not publicly announced.

“We have done everything we can as a union and as players to lay the groundwork necessary for us to play a safe 2021 season and now the CFL Board of Directors has the opportunity to do so. his share, ”union president Solomon Elimimian said in a statement. declaration.

“We look forward to the CFL making the right decision to kick off the season while maintaining the highest standards of player safety,” added general manager Brian Ramsay. “The pandemic has not been easy for anyone in the CFL – and I can tell you that it has been particularly difficult for the players and their families.

“This MOA [memorandum of agreement] is another big step in getting us all back to work so we can safely return to the pitch this season. “

The next big step

The CFL board of governors will hold its vote on the amended deal on Monday.

The CFL has not held a 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league put aside plans for an abbreviated campaign last August after failing to secure a $ 30 million interest-free loan from the Canadian government.

Last November, the CFL unveiled its plans for a full 2021 18-game regular season. But in April, Commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced that the league was postponing the start of the season 21 to August 5 and reducing the number of games played to 14 per team.

The next big step for a comeback on August 5 is Monday’s board of governors meeting.

The board doesn’t need unanimous support to agree to the Aug. 5 departure, but seven of nine teams are expected to vote in favor, as the CFL’s constitution requires a two-thirds majority. However, it is unclear whether the constitution could force teams to play and suffer significant financial losses simply because a majority want to continue a season.

The fear is that this could force a situation where a team voting against the August 5 start date would simply refuse to play if the rest of the board votes in favor of starting a season in early August. This scenario could have very serious consequences for the league’s transfer funds as well as the CFL broadcast deal and the league’s 21 schedule.

Not playing in 2020 has cost the CFL dearly. A source said the league lost between $ 60 million and $ 80 million last year by not hosting games.

The source was granted anonymity because the CFL never disclosed its 2020 financial figures.

Possibility of fan presence

Another factor is also the possibility of fans. The CFL wants to have a “significant” number of fans in the stands. However, the Ontario government has not approved this and three of the league’s franchises are based in the province (Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa).

But a kickoff on Aug. 5 would see all four teams in the Eastern Division open the season with a series of road games in Western Canada. The hope would be that once they returned home some fans would be allowed into Ontario stadiums.

A TSN report earlier this week said that a committee representing seven of Ontario’s seven professional franchises (Argos, Ticates, Redblacks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and Toronto Blue Jays) submitted a report to the Government of Ontario. The report says the committee was seeking 35 percent of the stadium’s capacity for Ontario’s second leg to reopen and up to full capacity for the third leg.

“We will continue to work with our stakeholders as well as our public health experts at the provincial and local levels to determine when and if it is safe to lift the measures, including when other professional sports leagues may resume play.” said Ontario’s Heritage. the Ministry of Sports and Tourism said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

The first stage of reopening Ontario is expected to begin on Friday. The province will stay at each stage for at least 21 days to assess any impact on key public health and health system indicators.

The closest date for the second stage would be July 2, with July 23 being the first for stage 3.

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