670 days later, the Blue Jays returned to Toronto to play baseball again
After 22 months of no baseball games during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Toronto Blue Jays will finally return to their hometown today to play at Rogers Center and host the Kansas City Royals.
After the federal government granted its national interest travel exemption, the team returned to Toronto, which was the first time in 670 days that Major League Baseball games were allowed to be played in downtown Toronto.
The exemption confirmed by the Office of the Federal Minister of Immigration will allow players to transit through the country without being subject to Canadian COVID-19 travel restrictions. The federal government said the plan includes pre-arrival and post-arrival testing for everyone who crosses the border, and additional testing four times a week for those who have not been vaccinated.
The last time the Jays played at Rogers Center was on September 29, 2019, when they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 8-3 to end the season.
The team participated in 60 compression games last season in Buffalo, New York, and started this year in Dunedin, Florida before moving to Buffalo.
The team treats the stadium as an outdoor venue
Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said that the team has been approved to treat the stadium as an outdoor venue, which can accommodate up to 15,000 fans to watch the game, accounting for about 30% of the stadium’s 49,286 people capacity.
He said that as long as the weather permits, the retractable roof will open, and other measures have been taken to ensure proper ventilation.
The stadium has also been renovated, including new turf, new sound system, new batting cage and changes to the appearance of the 100-story hall.
Watch | The Blue Jays get government approval to return to Toronto:
Shapiro said that the players and staff are looking forward to returning to Toronto, even if it means moving for the second time this season.
“I thought of Marcus Semien, Hyun Jin Ryu, George Springer. These players decided to come to the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto is an important part of this decision, and Canada is an important part of this decision,” Shapiro said in a statement Said in. Previous interview. “However, they have never played in the Rogers Center as a hometown player. So there is a lot of excitement.”
He said that returning to Toronto and playing in front of hometown fans again will be the motivation for the team because it is working hard to secure a place in the playoffs. The Jays are currently ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference of the American League.
The eyes of other leagues return to Canada
The return of the Blue Jays is the latest step for professional sports to return to the north of the border and get closer to normal.
Ottawa granted travel exemptions for the final two rounds of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs and recently approved a plan to allow CFL players and staff to return to Canada without undergoing a full 14-day quarantine.
Major League Soccer teams Toronto Football Club and Montreal Football Club also hosted matches against American opponents this month.
Although MLS has not yet received an isolation exemption, fully vaccinated athletes with a work permit can enter the United States without completing the 14-day isolation.
The Toronto Raptors are the only NBA team not in the United States. During the 2020 playoffs, they played in the Orlando, Florida foam zone of the league, but there they lost to the Boston Celtics.
The team announced in November 2020 that it would play at the Amalia Arena in Tampa, Florida, and ended the regular season there. This was the first time in eight seasons that it had missed a playoff spot. As of Thursday, there is still no news about when the Raptors will return to the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.