CFL has yet to request the same exemption as NHL for 2021 season

The NHL is ready to start its season in Canada, but the same can’t be said for the CFL.

The three-down league has never played football in January, of course, but its 2021 schedule is slated to begin in less than five months. The decision-makers are taking a wait-and-see approach with regards to COVID-19.

While the NHL received the go-ahead from the Public Health Agency of Canada for teams to play in their home arenas, the same guidelines haven’t yet been requested by the CFL. That’s according to an exclusive statement obtained by 3DownNation.

The Government of Canada’s priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. The resumption of sports events in Canada must be undertaken in adherence to Canada’s measures to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19.

Like other countries, Canada continues to work on the safe resumption of practice or game play in professional sports. The Government is open to reviewing proposals from professional sports organizations that include a comprehensive risk mitigation plan.

To date, the Government of Canada has not received a request for an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period from the Canadian Football League with respect to the league’s 2021 season.

Professional sports teams must operate within the rules of their provincial jurisdictions for sports or sporting events, which can include seasonal game play.

Our country’s health agency stated any specific questions related to the CFL’s 2021 season should be directed to the league. The main query posed to the its headquarters: why hasn’t the CFL asked for its own exemption to start the framework for returning to play?

“We have been in constant contact with the medical community and public health officials. The league will seek the appropriate approvals at the appropriate time,” the league said in a statement.

It’s clear the CFL remains in a holding pattern, but there are people in key positions who want the league to plan proactively for multiple scenarios depending on the state of the pandemic come the spring, summer, and fall.

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has been monitoring the vaccine progress closely and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has secured an additional 20 million doses — bringing the total to 40 million — while stating that Canada will have enough supply to vaccinate 20 million citizens by June 2021.

Canada’s population is just over 38 million people. Theoretically, over half of the country could have vaccines in their arms by the onset of summer, which — if all goes according to plan — matches the start of the 2021 CFL regular season.

If the league isn’t taking the necessary and obvious steps, they won’t be ready to play. CFL teams have busy football offices signing players and preparing for the season. Hopefully the board of governors, Ambrosie included, are doing the same.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.