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Raptors to open NBA 2020-21 season in Tampa after Canada refuses request for home games in Toronto

The Toronto Raptors said in a statement that they would play the 2020-21 season in Tampa Bay after the Canadian federal government decided on Friday that the Raptors would not be able to play games in the country, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

This has always been a concern due to the travel restrictions that exist due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Raptors had hoped for weeks that they would be able to figure out something that would not force them to move their entire operation south of the Canadian border. . However, the government decided against him, forcing Toronto to play the upcoming season in Florida.

Raptors Basketball Operations President Masai Ujiri issued the following statement:

“The Raptors have worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal levels to secure a plan that will allow us to play the 2020-21

season at home and in the backyard at Scotiabank Arena. These conversations have been productive. In the end, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play, means we will start our season in Tampa, Florida 2020. -21.

“We want to thank all levels of government and their public health officials for their commitment to this process and for caring for the health of Canadians. We are committed to continuing our work together, planning a safe return to Toronto. And because organization, we continue to do everything we can to promote and demonstrate public health measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

“So for now, we’re going to be away from home and our fans. They say the absence makes the heart grow. 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 will ask you to welcome us from afar and look forward to the day when we are all together again. “

Cities considered options for the Raptors include Kansas City, Buffalo and Nashville, but Tampa was the preferred choice of several players on the list, according to Josh Levenberg of TSN Sports. It’s not yet clear what arena the Raptors will play in while in Tampa, but the Amalie Arena, home of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, is an option. Amalie Arena has hosted the March Madness Games in the past and was due to host games for the men’s basketball tournament this year until it is canceled due to COVID-19.

If the Raptors were to use this arena, it would risk interfering in the upcoming NHL season. The NHL has not released any information on when its next season will begin, but if Toronto plans to use Lighting’s home for part of the season, it could lead to scheduling conflicts.

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