The Edmonton Elks game against the Toronto Argonauts that was scheduled for Thursday in Toronto has been postponed by the Canadian Football League due to COVID-19 cases.
In a statement Sunday night, the CFL said a number of Elks players tested positive for the virus but it did not specify how many players or who.
The announcement came after the team suddenly cancelled a scheduled practice Sunday.
As of Monday, there were nine positive cases, Elks president and CEO Chris Presson said. The team later confirmed quarterback Trevor Harris is not one of the team’s nine players to have tested positive.
On Tuesday, two more players tested positive, bringing the total number of cases to 11.
The entire Elks facility has been shut down for seven days and players and staff are isolating.
Alberta Health said Tuesday that the Elks cases have not been declared an outbreak yet but that could happen. Alberta Health is also helping with contact tracing.
He said the team will provide updates every 48 hours.
The CFL said the team will not practice or travel until chief medical officers and public health officials have assured the league it is safe to do so.
“This is in keeping with the standard of care for COVID-19 and professional sport. It also reflects our desire to put the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff — as well as public health — above all other considerations,” the statement read.
According to the league, Elks players, coaches and support staff will now be subject to enhanced testing protocol, including isolation.
The CFL also said the Elks are below the 85 per cent threshold at which players are allowed additional freedoms under the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
Presson said Monday more players and staff are vaccinated than not but didn’t provide a percentage. He said the Elks have the third lowest vaccination rate in the league’s nine teams.
He said the team will be having discussions with the province about whether to make vaccination mandatory for fans attending games “in the very near future.”
Edmonton played against the B.C. Lions last Thursday. The Lions will also be subject to enhanced protocol and will be monitored this week.
The statement said chief medical officers do not believe the Lions were exposed to a ‘high risk of infection.”
“We know this is disappointing news for CFL fans, but we are confident they will overwhelmingly support our decision to put safety first,” the league wrote.
It will now work to reschedule the game between the Elks and Argonauts.
Presson said Monday he’s confident the game against the Argos can and will be rescheduled. As far as Labour Day is concerned, he said it’s too early to tell.
According to the CFL’s policy if a game cannot be played because of COVID-19 issues and it cannot be rescheduled then the club suffering from the COVID-19 issues forfeits the game and is issued a loss while its opponent is credited with a 1-0 win.
On Monday, the team issued a statement, thanking the CFL for its support working through “the challenges presented by multiple Elks players testing positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
“We continue to work with the CFL on rescheduling options for our game against the Toronto Argonauts,” Elks spokesperson Evan Daum said in a statement.
“While finding a new date for our game in Toronto is important, it comes secondary to the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff.”
Daum said the team medical staff is working with the CFL’s chief medical officers and public health officials to take the necessary steps to “ensure our collective health.”
Enhanced testing is happening, he said.
“We continue to have conversations internally on how we can make improvements in mitigating our risk moving forward. We are committed to taking every step necessary in this regard, which will ultimately allow us to make Edmonton and our fans proud on the field.”