How COVID-19 Could Impact the CFL Season

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that non-essential travel between the United States and Canada will be halted to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the news may affect the 2020 CFL season, which is set to begin in under 100 days.

New COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and the CFL

The new widespread travel restrictions Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put on citizens could have a lasting effect on the CFL, its players, and personnel. Those who find themselves outside of the criteria of admittance at the border may no longer have access into Canada. Until then there is little to no possibility of the 2020 CFL season starting on time.

CFL Stuck Between Rock and Hard Place

The CFL finds itself in a similar situation as other major North American sports leagues, including the MLB, NBA, and the MLS. These are leagues that include Canadian teams but are more or less made up of players who are not from Canada. The problem this imposes on some teams is the overall logistics of managing the team’s players and personnel.

Border Measures will Determine CFL’s Schedule

At this point, it would be foolish to assume anything when it comes to the COVID-19 virus. However, one thing is for sure, the professional sports leagues in Canada will not be able to operate until the government lifts the Canadian–US border restrictions. At this point, we as fans of sports are at the mercy of the governments’ orders. Until those measures change, we will be without all the major North American sports leagues. 

COVID-19 and CFL Cancellations

So far, the CFL has canceled its regional and national combine in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“At our very core, we are about bringing people together,” the CFL said in a statement. “But the health and safety of the entire CFL family is paramount — and it is increasingly clear that we owe it to each other to take some extraordinary and temporary measures.”

The league was to hold their Ontario regional and East Canadian Regional combines last weekend. The league had scheduled the West Canadian regional combine for March 20 in Edmonton and the National combine in Toronto between March 26 and 28. The CFL also canceled all media gatherings until further notice. 

The B.C. Lions also postponed their Texas open-tryouts in Austin, Texas prior to the CFL’s announcement.

CFL 2020 Season Starting On-Time?

As far as the league goes as a whole, the CFL training camp is still scheduled to open in May. Edmonton and Winnipeg are slated to begin pre-season action on May 24. Beyond that point, the 2020 season is scheduled to kick off on June 11 with the Lions taking on the Eskimos in Edmonton.

The CFL said in their statement last week: 

“We remain very hopeful that circumstances will allow us to resume our normal activities soon and well in advance of our regular season, which is scheduled to open June 11,”

Some Canadian sports media members have cast doubt on this time table. Saskatoon radio host Jamie Nye has questioned the realistic possibility of the season starting on time. 650 CKOM’s Nye wrote on the station’s website: 

“It feels like the NFL and the CFL are currently immune to major delays in their seasons because, after all, these leagues don’t start until later. But later will be coming faster than we know. In fact the CFL is only nine weeks away from training camp and remember the timeline just laid out by the U.S. Center for Disease Control. No public gatherings of more than 50 people for at least eight weeks. Yes, that’s the American CDC, and not Health Canada, but you know the reaction to COVID-19 is unlikely to be much different in both countries. Can the Grey Cup move into December? I doubt it. Weather is nasty enough sometimes in November. So it’s realistic to believe we could see a shortened CFL season as well, and an amended schedule. Let’s hope not, but it’s definitely something the league has to be getting ready for.” – Jamie Nye, CKOM 650 Saskatoon.

Experts on COVID-19

What we do know so far is that the outlook is not looking overly favorable for the season to start on time. The Imperial College of London has told global governments that suppression must be sustained for at least three months for full minimization of the spread of COVID-19.

However, if we do not follow the social distancing measures consistently throughout the population, the virus could come back. This would possibly invoke a period where we go into cycles of suppression, followed by release, to ensure the public obeys social distancing measures. This would go on until a vaccine became available for the global population. This is all laid out in The Imperial College of London’s current prediction model.

For now, it would be safe to assume that the start of the 2020 CFL season will be affected by this COVID-19. However, things can change quickly and Last Word on Sports CFL will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.

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Main image credit:Embed from Getty Images


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