The National Lacrosse League has canceled its plans to hold an abbreviated season set to begin in April because of logistical hurdles caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the league will now focus on the start of a full season in the fall. The exact start date has yet to be announced.
Before the cancellation, the league was fixated on announcing an event at the First Ontario Center. But on Friday the Canadian government released heightened COVID-19 restrictions. The rules included having all international flights being required to land at four specific Canadian airports. Travelers entering the country by air must present a negative COVID-19 test within three days of arrival and self-isolate at a government-sponsored hotel.
The announcement disappointed Nick Sakiewicz, the NLL commissioner, though he wasn’t surprised.
“We’ve all learned that, during this time over the last year, we have to be prepared to pivot and adjust and adapt,” Sakiewicz said in an interview. “Regardless of what we did in Canada or the United States, it was just too much to overcome from and very much out of our control. We were also told that the restrictions are indefinite, and we were just running out of time to operationalize a season and decided it’s just best to focus on launching a more traditional season in the fall.”
The league also looked into a “bubble” season, which would have required the Canadian government to grant a waiver. The chances of attaining that waiver shrunk when the restrictions were announced.
“We appreciate the League’s extensive efforts to provide us the opportunity to play an abbreviated 2021 season in a safe and controlled environment throughout the changing landscape during this Pandemic,” Zach Currier, the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association president, said in a statement. “While we are disappointed that it will not be possible to play this spring, we are even more excited and passionate about having a full 2021-22 season and are eager to get back on the floor this fall.”