The Morning Call

Rap­tors are headed to Tampa Bay

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The Rap­tors will start the NBA sea­son next month in Tampa, Florida, be­cause of travel re­stric­tions by the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment stem­ming from the pan­demic.

The Rap­tors had been look­ing at other sites for sev­eral weeks, in­clud­ing Sunrise, Florida, the home of the NHL’s Panthers. But with NBA train­ing camp less than two weeks away and a sea­son start­ing Dec. 22, the Rap­tors were pressed to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

In­stead, they will play home games at Amalie Arena, home of the Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Light­ning.

“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,” Rap­tors Pres­i­dent Ma­sai Ujiri said in a state­ment Fri­day.

An of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the Cana­dian 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 the de­ci­sion could be re­viewed next year.

The Rap­tors, the NBA’s lone Cana­dian team, and the league 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.

Dr. Andrew Mor­ris, a pro­fes­sor of in­fec­tious dis­eases at the Univer­sity of Toronto and the med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the An­timi­cro­bial Stew­ard­ship Pro­gram at Si­nai-Univer­sity Health Net­work, said the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment made the right de­ci­sion.

“With the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion it is al­most im­pos­si­ble for the gov­ern­ment to rea­son­ably sanc­tion travel back and forth travel out­side a bub­ble,” Mor­ris said.

So, for the Rap­tors, it’s now time for Florida to be home away from home again.


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