The Canadian Football League has announced it is delaying the start of training camps indefinitely as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Main training camps had been scheduled to begin May 17, with rookie camps allowed to open as early as May 11.
The CFL board of governors made the decision last week, citing uncertainty over whether players should be making plans to travel to camps. It’s also believed that government guidelines restricting gatherings may not be lifted in time for the start of camps.
"The postponement stinks for sure, but we have to look out for what's best for people's health." Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Trevor Harris told TSN's Matthew Scianitti on Monday. Harris added, though, that he's made sure his prep [at home] hasn't been affected, stating "I'll be ready to report, in a days notice."
The league has made no decisions about changing the start of the preseason or regular season, although with the first preseason game scheduled for May 24 and the regular season slated to open June 11, it will be difficult to avoid delaying both.
"As for our future plans, we are in the hands of our public health officials, the advice they are providing governments, and the directives those governments are issuing to us all, and we acknowledge their timetable will be dictated by the virus itself," CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Monday. "We will make further decisions when we can and share them with our fans and the public as soon as possible.
"The CFL and its member clubs would like to take this opportunity to thank our fans, partners, players, prospects, coaches and staff, for their dedication and patience as we face this challenge. We are facing it together, even if we have to be physically apart. An additional thank you to everyone doing their part to fight the virus. Please wash your hands, stay home and practice social distancing. The sooner we stop the spread, the sooner we can get back to normal – and back to football.
"Finally, but most importantly, we want to express our gratitude to the people on the front lines of healthcare and the supply chain. Your hard and courageous work – to inform us, feed us and care for us, our communities and our loved ones – makes you our champions.
"We at the CFL are pragmatic optimists. Our pragmatism dictates that, unfortunately, training camps cannot go forward as scheduled. But our optimism remains strong. We continue to look forward to a CFL season and the Grey Cup."
The league is planning to go ahead with its Canadian college draft on April 30. However, there remains sufficient time to reconsider that decision if necessary.