CFL Official Statement
The Canadian Football League made the following announcement tonight:
The Canadian Football League is postponing this Thursday’s game in Toronto between the Toronto Argonauts and Edmonton Elks after receiving word earlier today that a number of Elks players have tested positive for COVID-19. This is in keeping with the standard of care for COVID-19 and professional sport. It also reflects our desire to put the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff – as well as public health – above all other considerations.
The Elks will not practice or travel until our Chief Medical Officers and public health officials have assured us it is safe for them to do so. All of the Elks’ Tier One personnel, including players, coaches and support staff will now be subjected to an enhanced testing protocol which includes isolation.
The Elks’ most recent opponent, the BC Lions, will participate in an enhanced protocol and will be monitored closely this week. Upon review with our Chief Medical Officers, we do not believe the Lions were exposed to a high risk of infection. The league is now working to reschedule the game between the Elks and the Argonauts.
We know this is disappointing news for CFL fans, but we are confident they will overwhelmingly support our decision to put safety first.
On Sunday night, TSN Broadcaster/Reporter Farhan Lalji broke the news of a COVID outbreak with multiple players on the Edmonton Elks testing positive.
The (1-2) Edmonton Elks were set to travel to Toronto to face the (2-1) Argonauts this coming Thursday night at BMO Field. The CFL is working towards rescheduling the game. COVID testing in the next few days with Edmonton’s players could determine if the game can be rescheduled in the immediate future. Right now, there are concerns that more positive tests could be forthcoming.
Toronto’s next game after week 4 does not take place until Monday, September 6th, when the Argos travel to Hamilton to play the Tiger-Cats in the Labour Day Classic. Four days later, on Friday, September 10th, The Boatmen will host Hamilton in week 6.
Edmonton also plays in week 5 on Monday, September 6th, on the road against Calgary. The CFL could attempt to move Toronto’s Week 4 game with Edmonton to Monday, August 30th, or perhaps Tuesday, August 31st. A week or so before, both teams play their week 5 opponents.
The Elks have byes in weeks 8 and 12. The Argos have byes in weeks 9,11, and 16. So there would have to be a lot of reshuffling by the league and the teams to make that work.
There is an outside possibility of the game being forfeited by Edmonton if rescheduling is ruled out. In that scenario, Toronto would be awarded a 1-0 victory. I am sure that the CFL and all parties would love to avoid that scenario from coming to fruition.
The NFL experienced COVID-19 outbreaks during their 2020 season but was fortunate that they didn’t cancel any of their games. The National Football League had to get very creative and rework the team’s schedules and byes to keep the season on track in a few instances. In some cases, teams had to play on shorter rest or, in the case of the Denver Broncos, had to play a practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback against the New Orleans Saints.
There was fear and the realistic possibility of this occurring during the 2021 CFL season. How the league handles it moving forward is vital. It’s new territory for everyone involved, with the utmost importance being not compromising or jeopardizing the health of its players and employees.