CFL announces the cancellation of its regional, national combines
TORONTO — The CFL has cancelled its regional and national combines in the wake of the growing COVID-19 outbreak.
The league made the announcement Thursday.
"At our very core, we are about bringing people together," the CFL said in a statement. "But the health and safety of the entire CFL family is paramount — and it is increasingly clear that we owe it to each other to take some extraordinary and temporary measures."
The CFL was scheduled to hold its Ontario regional combine Thursday in Toronto while the East Regional was scheduled for Friday in Baie-D'Urfe, Que.
The West Regional was slated for March 20 in Edmonton. The national combine was scheduled for Toronto on March 26-28.
"We want the young athletes involved to know that despite this delay, their dream remains very much alive," the CFL said. "And we will use every other possible tool at our disposal to evaluate them fairly prior to the global draft (April 16) and national draft (April 30)."
The CFL also cancelled media gatherings March 23-24 with several of its top stars in Toronto.
"The football executives’ and rules committee meetings scheduled for March 25 and 26 in Toronto will now take place remotely," the league said. "Our clubs are cancelling their free agent camps in the U.S. and regrettably, their school visits and other community outreach programs out of caution for our communities as well as our players."
Brian Ramsay, the executive director of the CFL Players' Association, said the union remains in constant communication with the league regarding any decisions made concerning the novel coronavirus.
"The health & safety of all players is our priority," Ramsay tweeted. "We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving issue and remain in communication with the CFL & CFL players."
The B.C. Lions indefinitely postponed tryouts in Texas prior to the CFL's announcement.
B.C. had scheduled tryout sessions in Austin on Saturday and Plano on Sunday.
CFL training camps will open in May. The Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers are scheduled to open the exhibition campaign May 24.
The '20 regular season is scheduled to kick off June 11 with B.C. in Edmonton.
"We remain very hopeful that circumstances will allow us to resume our normal activities soon and well in advance of our regular season, which is scheduled to open June 11," the CFL said.
And CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie cancelled his March 19 trip to Halifax, which was to culminate his annual cross-country tour.
"This is a disappointing but necessary decision, given the concerns about large gatherings," Ambrosie said in a statement. "I look forward to visiting the region as soon as circumstances allow and I thank our fans and everyone involved for their understanding and patience."
Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority of those who contract the virus recover. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the risk to the general population is low.
But for some, including those 65 years of age and over, those with compromised immune systems or pre-existing conditions, the illness can be much more severe. Among the Canadians diagnosed with the illness, so far fewer than 15 per cent have required hospitalization.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2020.