Hamilton Tiger-Cats chief operating officer Scott Mitchell took to Twitter on Friday to praise the CFL’s commitment to designing stringent public health protocols, while simultaneously questioning those who criticize the league’s plan.
“Amazing that the CFL could work exhaustively with world class physicians/advisors, the CFLPA and both the province of Manitoba and a very very strict federal health authority who speaks positively about the plan yet some people think they know better than all those listed above,” Mitchell tweeted.
The tweet came on the same day that Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said that his agency was “very comfortable” with the protocols proposed by the CFL for a hub city in Winnipeg. That plan would require players to self-isolate for 14 days prior to arrival in the Manitoba capital, then for another seven once inside the bubble. Players would be tested on their first day sixth day and 13th day in Winnipeg, with no outside persons allowed in. Violators would be sent home immediately.
Even with a favourable response from public health officials, many people around the CFL have remained skeptical that players can be relied upon to quarantine in the United States.
“The mocking of CFL bubble protocols has been rampant by… people in the league! Expecting Americans to isolate for 14 days on their own before coming to Canada,” reported Sportsnet’s Arash Madani earlier Friday. “Said a source: Guys go MIA Grey Cup week! Who is gonna quarantine knowing they are going into a 100 day lockdown?”
The CFL believes it has created the best plan possible to keep players and the general public safe in the event of a 2020 season, but criticism in the face of general positivity from public health officials is beginning to upset decision makers. The CFL requires approval on a $30 million interest-free loan from the federal government to play in 2020, money which is contingent on the acceptance of their health and safety protocols. While top officials like Dr. Njoo seem to suggest that is likely, negative public perception could influence the government’s decision.
The potential moving target date for kick-off of the possible six-game schedule would be October 1. However, there have already been three deadlines pass — July 23, which was shifted to July 24 and July 31 — without any final decision on whether the CFL will play or not and it’s about to stretch into the third week of August.