Raptors, Maple Leafs Won't Sell Tickets to Upcoming Games amid COVID-19 Surge

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 30, 2021

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2019/06/12: Toronto Raptors logo hanging on the wall of a modern skyscraper in the downtown district. Decorations as the Toronto Raptors Basketball team is playing the NBA playoffs for the first time in history. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs will play in front of empty home stadiums for the immediate future because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Ranger of CityNews Toronto reported chief medical officer Dr. Kieran Moore announced indoor capacity for venues such as arenas and theaters can either host 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, depending on which one is lower.

The NBA's Raptors and NHL's Maple Leafs responded by saying they will not sell tickets starting Friday and will reassess the restrictions in three weeks.

Ranger noted this announcement comes after Ontario reported 13,807 new infections and 965 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on Thursday. The province is also delaying in-person learning for schools from Jan. 3 until at least Jan. 5.

While the Raptors and Maple Leafs are looking to limit exposure for their players, coaches and employees by not selling tickets as the numbers spike, both the NBA and NHL have faced significant challenges.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported 36 percent of the NBA's officials are in COVID-19 protocols, which has forced the Association to turn toward G League referees as replacement options.

In fact, the G League has paused its season entirely so there are enough players and officials to replace those who are sidelined. The NBA has already postponed a number of games with players across the league out in part because of COVID-19, including Thursday's game between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets.

Warriors star Draymond Green was not pleased with the latest developments:         

Draymond Green @Money23Green

How do you continue to cancel games when you’ve implemented rules to prevent this from happening? Is that not a competitive advantage for other teams? The guys we didn’t have due to the protocol list played no role in Tuesdays loss? Pick a side but don’t straddle the fence.

Draymond Green @Money23Green

So when the game is rescheduled(which will probably take a day away from our “break”), we wil play them at full strength… But they got to sneak a win when we weren’t at full strength, only two days ago??? Let’s make it make some sense here.

Draymond Green @Money23Green

Not to mention, this will more than likely add a back to back to our schedule, which is also advantage Denver.

The NHL has also postponed a number of games and even paused the season earlier this month to give players an opportunity to get healthier. That decision came after the league and its players association temporarily suspended cross-border games between teams in the United States and Canada.

The Maple Leafs have not played since Dec. 14 and are scheduled to face the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 1. The Raptors lost to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday and are scheduled to host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.