Toronto mayor John Tory warns of likelihood of no professional sports in city until fall

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Toronto mayor John Tory said on Friday it looks as if professional sports won’t return to the city until the fall in an interview with Sportsnet’s Writers Bloc.

“I would just say to people, don’t hold your hopes out that you’re going to see professional sports played in Toronto, even in front of an empty stadium, before some time into the fall,” Tory commented.

That same day, the City of Toronto announced that all “City-led and City-permitted events” with an attendance of more than 250 people would be canceled through July 31 and those that could see at least 25,000 canceled through Aug. 31. The order doesn’t impact the resumption or cancellation of professional sporting events according to the press release.

Tory told Sportsnet he has spoken with Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro and the Maple Leafs during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said discussions with Ujiri was centered mostly around the opening of practice facilities, which the Raptors partially reopened on May 11.

Toronto has been a reported finalist to be an NHL “hub city” should the season resume, however, talks have not been in-depth.

“They described to us about how that would work with teams staying in hotels and going back and forth in buses and all of this, and we’ve really not heard much more about it,” Tory recalled regarding conversations with the Leafs. “Suffice it to say, with respect to a lot of things, we are not contemplating any situation in which there would be large crowd scenes.

“We haven’t been asked to come to grips with that, just because nobody’s asked. Nobody’s said, ‘Okay, we are going to be a hub, we’re going to play these games here.’ What are the rules gonna have to be in order to keep everybody safe?”

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Tory did leave the door open for professional sports to be played in Toronto if it complies with social distancing, testing and quarantine rules. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this month that any athletes returning to the country must quarantine.

“In Toronto, in stadiums, even without spectators, there’s probably a way to work it out — subject to all those questions that I asked earlier about contact between players, size of teams, arrangements on the bench,” Tory noted. “As time goes on, if you were saying, ‘Ok, in September there’s a chance we could have some of that,’ I would not say no.”

After Friday’s announcement, Honda Indy Toronto announced it will reschedule the race originally slated for July 10-12. Rogers Cup didn’t update the status of its men’s event scheduled for Aug. 8-16 in Toronto. On April 1, the tournament released a statement saying they’re continuing preparations.

“At this time, planning of the 2020 Rogers Cup is well underway and we are continuing to prepare to operate and host a world-class event for our players, our fans, our partners and the tennis community at large,” the statement read. “However, we cannot deny that there is a strong possibility that our tournament is postponed until next year if the current situation, both in Canada and in the rest of the world, does not considerably improve.”

Tennis Canada said that the ATP and WTA tours have given themselves until June 1 to make a decision regarding the hard court season. The organization said they’re confident they’ll be able to confirm the status of the tournaments on that date. The women’s draw for the Rogers Cup, which would have taken place in Montreal, was cancelled back in April after the Quebec government declared public sports, cultural events and festivals should not occur before Aug. 31.

The Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, Argonauts and Marlies are among the professional sports teams in the city who have halted play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.