Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Craig Roh and Jake Thomas sack BC Lions quarterback Mike Reilly after he recovers his own fumble during CFL action in 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Craig Roh and Jake Thomas sack BC Lions quarterback Mike Reilly after he recovers his own fumble during CFL action in 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

CFL pushing back start of season nearly 2 months due to COVID-19

The season is now scheduled to be 14 games

The CFL is pushing back the start to its 2021 season and reducing the number of games played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league announced Wednesday it plans to kick off the ‘21 campaign Aug. 5, nearly two months later than originally planned.

The CFL campaign was slated to open June 10 with each team playing a full 18-game regular season after the league cancelled the ‘20 season due to the global pandemic.

Training camps were to open in mid-May with the first exhibition contest slated for May 23.

But with Canada dealing with a third wave, the CFL board of governors decided Tuesday to push back the start of the 2021 season and reduce the schedule to 14 games.

That will also result in the Grey Cup game being played Dec. 12 in Hamilton instead of Nov. 21.

And although the CFL remains committed to returning in 2021, this schedule revision is merely a target date because of the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move was not a surprise, given Ontario (3,469 new cases Tuesday) and Quebec (1,136 new cases) are both battling a tough third wave of the pandemic.

Four of the CFL’s nine franchises — Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Redblacks and Montreal Alouettes — operate in the two provinces.

It’s the second straight year that the novel coronavirus outbreak has wreaked havoc with the CFL schedule.

In August, the CFL cancelled plans for an abbreviated 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic after failing to secure an interest-free, $30-million loan from the federal government.

The hope is the decision to delay the start of the ‘21 season will allow for more Canadians to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations and thus increase chances of fans being in the stands at some point once football resumes.

That’s crucial for CFL teams, which are heavily reliant upon ticket sales to generate operating revenue.

Delaying the season will also give the CFL more time for its return-to-play protocols to be approved by Canadian health officials.

Presently, amended protocols are before the six provinces where franchises are based — B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec — and must be approved.

Once that’s done, the protocols will to to the Public Health Agency of Canada — which was examining the league’s back-to-play plan last year when the CFL pulled the plug on its ‘20 season.

And once that’s done, the CFL would then have to secure a national interest exemption from the federal cabinet for games to be played before the completion of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CFL

Just Posted

Quinn, left, and Adrian Van de Mosselaer are going through UBCO’s nursing program together after Quinn encouraged his brother to go back to school. (UBC Okanagan/Contributed)
UBC Okanagan student transitions from professional hockey to nursing

Adrian Van de Mosselaer credits his younger brother for the push to get him back to learning

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

A GoFundMe page has been launched to alleviate the financial burden for “Captain” Kelly, a former Peachland School District bus driver who was recently diagnosed with stage three lung and lymphatic cancer. (GoFundMe.com)
Fundraiser launched for former Peachland school bus driver diagnosed with cancer

“Captain” Kelly was recently diagnosed with stage three lung and lymphatic cancer

Brenda Ware. (RCMP)
Murder charge laid against man in Kootenay National Park homicide

Philip Toner was located in Lake Country on May 11

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in South Okanagan

The area will see higher police presence ahead of a forensic examination

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Most Read