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

The Toronto Raptors announced in a statement that they will play the 2020-21 season in Tampa Bay, after the Canadian Federal Government on Friday decided that the Raptors will not be able to play games in the country, according to the Toronto Star’s Doug Smith.

This was always a concern due to the travel restrictions that exist due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Raptors hoped for several weeks that they would be able to figure out something that did not involve them in having to move. their entire operation south of the Canadian border. However, the government decided against it and forced Toronto to play next season in Florida.

Raptor President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri released the following statement:

“The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal levels to ensure a plan that enabled us to play our 2020-21

season at home and at our home ground at Scotiabank Arena. These talks were productive, and We found strong support for the protocols we put forward.In the end, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to decide where we want to play, means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida.

“We would like to thank all levels of government and their public health officials for their dedication to this process and for taking care of Canadians’ health. We are committed to continuing our work together and planning a safe return to play in Toronto. as an organization, we remain committed to doing all we can to promote and demonstrate public health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

“So we want to be away from our homes and our fans for now. They say that absence makes the heart grow harder. I’m not sure it’s possible for us – we love Toronto and Canada, and we know that “We have the best fans in the NBA. For now, I want to ask you to cheer on us far away, and we look forward to the day we are all together again.”

Cities that were considered options for the Raptors include Kansas City, Buffalo and Nashville, but Tampa was the preferred choice among several players on the list, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. It’s still unclear which arena the Raptors will play in while in Tampa, but Amalie Arena, home to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, is an option. Amalie Arena has previously hosted the March Madness game and was to host the men’s college basketball tournament this year until it was canceled due to COVID-19.

However, if the Raptors used this arena, it would risk interfering with the NHL’s upcoming season. The NHL has not released any information on when its next season will start, but if Toronto plans to use the lighting home part of the season, it could lead to planning conflicts.

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