Canada Is A Sports Problem Because Of COVID-19

No baseball anytime soon.

A date has not been set for the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball franchise’s return to the city. The problem? COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the province of Ontario and the province is once again in a lockdown. Ontario has a bit more than 14.5 million people with Toronto, the fourth biggest city by population on the North American continent, coming in at slightly less than three million people but roughly six million people live in the Greater Toronto Area market. But as of the weekend, just 333,150 people in Ontario have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Those numbers don’t bode well for the Blue Jays nor does it look good for the National Hockey League two teams that call Ontario home, the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Canada’s third wave of COVID-19 illnesses could be the worst of the pandemic which now is in its 14th month. In Ontario, nonessential retail stores including malls have closed to in-person shopping with only grocery stores, pharmacies and garden centers open to the public. Restaurant dining rooms, personal care services, and gyms are closed. But hockey games are continuing at least for the time being. The National Hockey League could have an internal problem with its 31 teams. The 24 United States-based teams have access to COVID-19 vaccines, the seven Canadian teams do not because of the extremely slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. While the United States has about 20 percent of the population vaccinated, Canada has just two percent of its population fully vaccinated. Toronto Blue Jays home games are scheduled for Buffalo. The NBA Toronto Raptors franchise is doing business in Tampa. Canada’s three Major League Soccer teams are playing in the United States. The National Hockey League playoffs start in May, Canada is not ready.

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Toronto Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette (11) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. celebrate after scoring on Randal Grichuk’s three-run double off Los Angeles Angels’ Jose Quintana during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 10, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)