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Toronto mayor: Pro sports might not be played in city before the fall

Rene Johnston / Toronto Star / Getty

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Although the return of professional sports may be looming, Toronto mayor John Tory is cautioning that his city likely won't be hosting any games in the near future.

"I would just say to people, don't hold your hopes out that you're going to see professional sports played in Toronto, even in front of an empty stadium, before sometime into the fall," Tory said on Sportsnet's "Writers Bloc" podcast.

The mayor said he's spoken recently to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro, and the Toronto Maple Leafs organization about the possibility of pro sports returning to the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NHL is considering potentially using Toronto as a hub city to host multiple teams in order to finish the rest of the season. Tory added that while he's spoken to the Maple Leafs about the matter, talks haven't gone into great detail.

"They described to us about how that would work with teams staying in hotels and going back and forth in busses and all of this, and we've really not heard much more about it," Tory said. "Suffice it to say, in respect of a lot of things, we are not contemplating any situation in which there would be large crowd scenes."

Tory added that even if teams were to play in front of empty arenas, it wouldn't necessarily remove the risk of the virus spreading. Focusing on hockey, he mentioned factors such as team size, players sitting next to each other on the bench, the physical nature of the sport, and having to test everyone involved.

Still, Tory remains optimistic about the return of sports to Toronto. He added that the decision isn't ultimately his, and said that one will come with the help of guidelines from local medical authorities.

"In Toronto, in stadiums, even without spectators, there's probably a way to work it out - subject to all those questions that I asked earlier about contact between players, size of teams, arrangements on the bench," Tory added. "As time goes on, if you were saying, 'OK, in September, is there a chance we could have some of that,' I would not say no."

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