Raptors to start 2020-21 NBA season in Florida after request to play in Toronto denied

The Raptors were able to play the rest of the 2019-20 season in the Orlando bubble

The Raptors will start the 2020-21 NBA season in Tampa, Fla., after the Canadian government denied their request to play in Toronto amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement that the team would play in Tampa for the time being.

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“The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena. These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward. Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida,” Ujiri said.

He thanked government officials for helping ensure the safety of Canadians during the health crisis.

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“They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m not sure that’s possible for us – we love Toronto and Canada, and we know we have the best fans in the NBA. For now, I’ll ask you to cheer for us from afar, and we’ll look forward to the day we are all together again.”

Ontario, Canada, has seen a spike in coronavirus cases over the course of the month. Between Nov. 5 and Nov. 18, the province has totaled 18,821 cases, according to health officials.

The Raptors reportedly considered playing in Louisville, Ky., and New Jersey.

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The new NBA season is set to tip off on Dec. 23.