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Blue Jays face challenge to play in Toronto

TORONTO – With Major League Baseball not going with a hub-city model for its 2020 season, the Toronto Blue Jays may be forced to find a venue outside Canada to play home games.

When asked about the Blue Jays training or playing games in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s chief public health officer did not raise the possibility of waiving quarantine rules.

“When (the players) come back to training, they are subjected to the 14 days of quarantine. … As the teams coalesce and come together, there are the concepts of cohorting and group quarantine whereby the players have to remain together and pose no risk to themselves or surrounding population so that’s the concept,” Dr. Theresa Tam said.

Canada has waived the 14-day quarantine for Vancouver, Edmonton or Toronto being a potential NHL hub city, agreeing to a cohort quarantine where teams stay in an essential bubble during the Stanley Cup tournament.

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With teams entering and exiting Canada regularly during a 60-game baseball season without fans, the NHL approach would be impossible to duplicate.

MLB announced Tuesday night the season will start July 23 or 24, with teams scheduled to report to camps by July 1.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said he has not received a specific proposal for games in Canada from MLB.

“The Major League Baseball proposal (for a season), I’ve seen it and read it, it deals with a lot of aspects there,” he said. “It doesn’t mention anything about travel to Canada at this time, so if there was some interest in that we’d have to get a proposal from them to see how they would undertake the uniqueness of bringing the team, and if they’ve thought about bringing other teams up into here to play how they would work with that up until such time as the federal government reduces or eliminates their quarantine law, but that’s still in place at this time.

“We have ways that we’ve worked with the NHL to consider that. I have not seen anything specific yet with Major League Baseball at this time.”

Dunedin, Fla., the Blue Jays’ spring-training home, and Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, both have been mentioned as potential home venues for Canada’s lone major-league team in reports.

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The Blue Jays did not immediately respond for comment.

The club has not said whether it will train in Toronto or elsewhere.

The Toronto Raptors, Canada’s lone NBA team, are in Fort Myers, Fla., to resume training ahead of the league’s restart in Orlando next month.

— With files from The Associated Press.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2020.