NBA's Toronto Raptors forced to leave Canada to begin season in Florida

The Toronto Raptors will start the 2020-21 season playing home games in Tampa, FL.

The Toronto Raptors will not begin the upcoming NBA season playing in front of hometown fans.

Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions between Canada and the United States, the Raptors will start the 2020-21 season playing home games in Tampa, Florida. It's not too far from Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, where the NBA completed the 2019-20 season in a bubble.

Masai Ujiri, the team's president of basketball operations, said the Raptors worked with Canadian public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to develop a plan that would allow the team to play the 2020-21 season at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

"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.

In July, the Canadian government denied permission for Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays to host games at their home ballpark Rogers Centre in Toronto due to similar travel restrictions. The Blue Jays played their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, during the shortened 2020 baseball season.

No other details were disclosed, including how long the Raptors plan to stay in Florida or where the team will stay, practice, or host games in Tampa.

"We commit to continuing our work together, planning for a safe return to play in Toronto," Ujiri said. "And as an organization, we remain committed to doing all we can to promote and demonstrate public health measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada."

CNN has reached out to the league for comment.

The NBA's 75th regular season, shortened to 72 games for each team, is set to tipoff on Tuesday, December 22.

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