TORONTO — Scotiabank Arena won't be used for voter registration for the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election due to concerns around COVID-19.

The Toronto Raptors had planned to open their home arena so Americans living in Toronto could register to vote, but announced Thursday that due to the global pandemic, rising case numbers in Toronto and Ontario, and restrictions on indoor gatherings, voting registration won't be held in person.

The Raptors are urging voters to request their ballots online.

Teams across the NBA and other pro sports have offered their facilities for election-related activities, and volunteers had planned to be at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena this week to assist Americans registering for absentee ballots.

Racial and social justice messages were a major theme of the NBA's restart at Walt Disney World. Coach Nick Nurse and the Raptors launched a social media campaign to encourage the some-650,000 Americans living in Canada to vote.

"I know firsthand how easy it is to register for an absentee ballot . . . it was really fast and simple," said Nurse, who registered to vote while he was in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World.

"We would have loved to have had the chance to see voters in person, but it's important to remember we're still facing a global pandemic, and we have to look out for the wellbeing of our community."

According to FVAP.gov, only 6.9 per cent of those eligible and living outside the U.S. voted in the 2016 general election.

"We all know from these past months that it's possible to make a big impact online - and that's what U.S. citizens living in Canada can do," said John Wiggins, the Raptors' vice-president of organizational culture and inclusion.

The Raptors said eligible voters can register at FVAP.gov.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2020.