With Canada placing strict rules regarding quarantine due to the coronavirus, the Toronto Raptors would be forced to play their home games in the United States itself. The Canadian government were not ready to exempt the NBA franchise and their potential opponents from the 14-day quarantine rule set in place for people coming into the country.
Due to the current circumstances, the franchise announced that they will play their home games in Tampa Bay rather than Toronto. Raptors president Masai Ujiri released a statement elucidating the reasons behind the decision playing their home matches in Tampa Bay, Florida.
The 2019 NBA champions will play their matches at the Amalie Arena, also the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning side of the NHL.
The Raptors will start this season playing in Tampa instead of Toronto. (Canada currently requires anyone crossing the border to quarantine for 14 days each time – obviously not workable for the Raptors themselves, or any opponents coming to play them.)
Team statement here: pic.twitter.com/DJAmJaPrW6
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 20, 2020
“The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena,”
“These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward. Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida,” The statement read
The president also expressed his gratitude to the Canadian government for their efforts and requested the fans to continue with their support for the team.
“We want to thank all levels of government and their public health officials for their dedication to this process, and for looking after the health of Canadians. For now, I’ll ask you to cheer for us from afar, and we’ll look forward to the day we are all together again.”
Raptors not the lone Canadian team to contest their matches in the USA
The Canadian government’s strict regulations are not only applied to the Raptors with major MLB team Toronto Blue Jays stranded in the United States America. The Blue Jays were denied permission to host their matches in Canada, and as a result, the team will play the majority of their home games in Sahen Field, Buffalo.