Raptors denied permission to play in Canada, head to Tampa

The Canadian government has denied a request by the NBA and the Raptors to play in Toronto amid the pandemic, and the team says it will start the season next month in Tampa, Florida

TORONTO — The Canadian government denied a request by the NBA and the Raptors to play in Toronto amid the pandemic, and the team says it will start the season next month in Tampa, Florida.

An official familiar with the federal government’s decision told The Associated Press there is too much COVID-19 circulating in the United States to allow for cross-border travel that is not essential.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity and not authorized to talk publicly about the matter, said there’s a chance that at some point next year the decision could be reviewed.

The Canadian government had been reviewing a proposal from the NBA and the Raptors. The team had said it needed to know this week with training camp less than two weeks away.

The Raptors and the NBA needed an exemption to a requirement that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must isolate for 14 days. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel.

The Toronto Blue Jays failed to persuade the federal government to grant exemptions and played home games in Buffalo, New York, this year.

The Canadian government required a comprehensive public health plan and written support from local health officials. The plan was reviewed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.