The B.C. Lions are preparing for the 2021 CFL season to kick-off on the August 5 target date.
Vancouver-based reporter Rick Dhaliwal had a conversation with Leos co-general manager Neil McEvoy on Wednesday morning before going on-air with co-host Don Taylor on their show: Donnie & Dhali – The Team.
“The B.C. Lions are telling their players on July 2 to start quarantining, so that means July 16 training camp in Kamloops is a go for the Lions. It looks like the Lions will start in August,” Dhaliwal said.
“I could feel the energy through the phone. Neil is pumped up, ready to go.”
B.C. unveiled a four-step restart plan Tuesday focused on protecting people and safely getting life back to normal on the West Coast. The criteria for moving through the steps are vaccinations rates — 60, 65, and 70 percent of adults 18 or older receiving one dose — along with stable case counts and coronavirus hospitalizations.
Premier John Horgan and chief medical officer of health Dr. Bonnie Henry have been in communication with the B.C. Lions regarding the potential for the franchise to return to play at BC Place. Team president Rick LeLacheur has stated a 14-game regular season schedule will be announced in the coming days, but the league’s August 5 target kick-off date means nothing to the premier.
“It’s not just dates, it’s dates and data. I’m optimistic that if they can push the season further into August we might be in a better place,” Horgan said during a press conference.
“It’s not going to be by dates, it’s going to be by data,” Dr. Henry said. “That’s helping us make sure we’re doing the right thing.”
For the CFL’s timeline to be met, the league requires ‘a significant number of fans’ to be allowed in stadiums by municipal, provincial, and federal governments. The data will drive the decisions made in B.C. and COVID-19 happenings in other jurisdictions will factor in because the Lions play against other teams from major cities across Canada.
The league and union began meetings during the second week of February with a focus on playing football this year. The two sides have submitted return to play health and safety plans to various levels of government in Canada and are working to finalize the protocols with six provinces before getting the final stamp from the nation’s capital.