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

An example of what a mural would look like on the back wall on Ron’s Bait and Tackle Store which faces the courtyard and sidewall. The mural photos shown here are mock-ups of existing artwork on walls of interest in the downtown core to build anticipation within the community about the concept of murals. The KPAA will not necessarily be using these locations or this artwork for the actual murals. (KPAA photo)
Kitimat Public Art Alliance mural funding request denied

D’Andrea suggested she will come back to the council at a later date with a more concrete plan

L-R: Vanessa Cuoto, Montana Murray, Connor Best, Dawn Best, Natalia Lopez, Thomas Walton, and Charlotte Collier partaking in the clean-up Kitimat campaign on May 28. (Katie Peacock photo)
Kitimat’s MStar Hotel brings out staff’s competitive clean-up side

The hotel staff circulated the Big Spruce Trailhead and picked up as much garbage as they could

Kitimat’s Water Quality Advisory, which has been in place for just over a week, has been lifted. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory in Kitimat lifted

The district has been under a Water Quality Advisory since June 2

On June 16 at 6 p.m., the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a public presentation and discussion with Happipad, a social enterprise, to talk about solutions for affordable housing Kitimat. (Happipad photo)
Affordable housing to be focus of Kitimat Chamber of Commerce meeting

Figures indicate the average Kitimat household needs to make more than $92,000 a year

(District of Kitimat logo)
Hirsch Creek Bridge restricted to single lane traffic

The district is restricting the bridge traffic to legal highway loads only

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Most Read