The Toronto Raptors president, Masai Ujiri, , made an official announcement on Friday stating that the Canadian team will make its home base in Tampa, Florida, to begin the upcoming season after Canada denies permission to play home games in Toronto over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The news did not quite come off as a surprise considering that the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday morning that the country is aiming to extend its Canada-U.S border restrictions, ahead of the increasing cases of Covid-19.
President Ujiri stated in the interview that “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.” Thus, the players are very much positive in the new beginning. This is definitely going to be a fantastic start after the long pandemic break. From the words of the president of Toronto Raptors, it is also clear that the authorities will finalize the date for the matches, soon.
Further Statement From Toronto Raptors
However, Ujiri stated that “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 Raptors are now gearing up Amelia Arena home, while the non-essential trip to the south from United States to Canada. The team will reportedly remain in the Atlantic Division for the moment.
The Amelie Arena is home to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, whose captain Steven Stamkos humorously welcomed the Raptors’ move on Twitter this Friday with a play on the Canadian team’s slogan “We the North.”
“‘WE THE SOUTH,” the Canadian player, Stamkos wrote.
Ujiri has revealed that the organization is committed to continue work with public health and government officials to plan “for a safe return to play in Toronto” in addition to “doing all we can do to promote and demonstrate public health measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.”
“So, we’ll be away from our home and our fans for now. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, I’m not sure that’s possible for us — we love Toronto and Canada, and we know we have the best fans in the NBA. 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.” was Ujiri’s concluding statement.
The NBA is provisionally expected to start its preseason December 11 as of now, with a regular season of 72 games due to start December 22.
Position Amidst Corona Pandemic
Meanwhile, the United States is currently dominating the world in cases of COVID-19, with more than 11 million cases, while Canada has recorded a whopping amount of more than 315,000 cases, according to data from the New York Times. However, the enthusiasm among the public and the NBA organizers are not dying down.