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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police in Nanaimo hope the public can identify a person of interest who was seen leaving the Dollarama store in Harewood shortly after a suspicious fire broke out March 29. (Photo submitted)
Police hope public can help identify person of interest in Nanaimo arson case

Nanaimo RCMP release photo of person of interest in Harewood Dollarama store arson

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ superintendent Scott Saywell at a May 6 press event showing off two new electric school buses. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district shows off electric buses

New buses anticipated to reduce 17 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from SD68 buses

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts trending down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Nanaimo city council has voted to deploy speed-reduction measures for the summer along Departure Bay Road and to consult with area residents and road users to explore ways to further reduce vehicle speeds in the Departure Bay Beach area. (News Bulletin file photo)
City will again lower speed limit on Departure Bay Road to 40km/h

City of Nanaimo will consult with stakeholders for ideas to reduce speeds past the beach

Reforming food systems will require taking a long view, and determined people organizing at tipping points, says columnist. (Stock photo)
OPINION: Food system reform can change world for the better

‘Long food movement’ could be a road map to curb our current global follies, says columnist

Beef to the woman focused on her phone, driving a dark-coloured sedan through the Cilaire school zone. Perhaps you could use that same device to research some of the accidents and injuries caused by drivers who can’t seem to stay off their phones whilst behind the wheel.
Beefs & Bouquets, May 5

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Two semi trucks collided on the Nanaimo Parkway just north of Northfield Road on Wednesday morning, May 5. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
UPDATE: Nanaimo Parkway reopens after crash involving semi trucks

35-year-old driver was taken to hospital with serious injuries

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports first vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Most Read