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Edmonton Elks practice cancelled due to COVID protocols ahead of home opener against Ottawa

Edmonton Elks helmet with Commonwealth Stadium in the background. Edmonton Elks

The Edmonton Elks are set to have their home opener against the Ottawa Redblacks Saturday night, but Edmonton’s practice was cancelled Friday morning due to COVID protocols.

“That could be anything from a positive test to a close contact to something else going wrong,” Elks on 630 CHED play-by-play announcer Morley Scott said. “We really don’t know.

“Right now it’s pretty locked up and the only reason we’re getting is COVID protocols.”

Read more: Edmonton Elks do some scrambling to prepare for the Redblacks on Saturday

In a statement, the team said coaches, players and staff continue to work ahead of the game, but practice and all media availabilities have been cancelled.

“The Edmonton Elks are continuing to prepare for tomorrow’s scheduled home opener against the Ottawa Redblacks,” the Elks said Friday.

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“The team’s walkthrough scheduled for today was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols, but players, coaches, and staff are at the facility today in preparation for tomorrow’s game.”

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CFL returning to play – Jun 14, 2021

Shortly before 5 p.m., the team updated its injury report, showing defensive back Brian Walker on the list for “COVID protocols.”

He will not play Saturday night.

No further information on the COVID protocols was provided by the team.

On Friday night, the team announced a second player had been placed in COVID-19 protocols but did not name him.

The team also said a staff member is isolating at home after receiving a positive result on a COVID-19 test. The Elks said the staff member tested negative using a PCR test on Thursday but was sent home to isolate after returning a positive result Friday.

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The team noted that no other rapid tests came back positive, and all players, coaches and staff were then given PCR tests. The Elks said they expect to receive those test results late Friday or early Saturday.

As sports leagues around the world have returned to play during the COVID-19 pandemic, game delays, cancellations and postponements have happened. The NHL, NFL and NBA have all seen COVID protocols interrupt the regular schedule.

Read more: LaPolice, Nichols together again, this time with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks

“The problem with football is it’s so much more difficult to reschedule because they play every week, they can only play once a week or once every five or six days,” Scott said. “It’s not like hockey, where you can tack something on at the end of the season.

“The Grey Cup’s going in Hamilton Dec. 12 and there’s no extra weeks for teams to do makeup games.”

The cancellation comes days after the league announced its COVID-19 policy.

Under the CFL policy, if a contest is cancelled because of COVID-19 issues and can’t be rescheduled, the club suffering from the COVID-19 issues will forfeit a 1-0 loss. Should both squads have issues, they’ll forfeit the game and be assigned losses.

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In either scenario, if a team can prove at least 85 per cent of its players under contract have been vaccinated, at least once, the players will receive their salary for the cancelled game. If that figure falls below 85 per cent, players won’t be paid.

The Elks home opener is scheduled to go at 8 p.m. Saturday night. 630 CHED has an extended pre-game show starting at 6 p.m.

– with files from the Canadian Press

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