Omicron Variant

How Will Ontario's Omicron Numbers Affect NBA, NHL Games?

COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising in the Canadian province

How will Ontario’s omicron numbers affect NBA, NHL games? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

As omicron cases continue to rise in Ontario, could NHL and NBA games in the Canadian province be affected?

Speaking to The Sports Network’s Rick Westhead, Dr. Andrew Morris predicted that the government will soon have to close NHL and NBA games to fans.

The province announced two weeks ago that it had detected the country’s first two omicron cases. On Sunday, Ontario reported 1,476 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the seven-day average to 1,236. The average was 761 a week ago.

The Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) and Ottawa Senators (NHL) all play home games within the province. The Raptors played all home games during the 2020-21 season at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay due to Canadian travel restrictions before returning to Scotiabank Arena for the 2021-22 season. The Maple Leafs and Senators, meanwhile, played an all-Canadian schedule during the 2020-21 regular season in arenas closed to the general public as the NHL navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and government mandates. 

Ontario Sports Minister Lisa Macleod announced in October that all three teams had been given the green light to begin their 2021-22 seasons in front of full crowds.

The Raptors already encountered a postponement, though it was not due to Ontario’s omicron numbers. The Chicago Bulls’ Tuesday game against the Detroit Pistons and Thursday game against the Raptors in Toronto were postponed due to the Bulls’ ongoing COVID-19 outbreak where 10 players are in NBA health and safety protocols. The postponements are the first in the NBA this season.

Here are the upcoming home schedules for each of the three Ontario teams:

Toronto Raptors

Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Dec. 23 vs. St. Louis Blues, 2 p.m. ET
  • Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Jan. 1 vs. Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m. ET
  • Jan. 3 vs. Carolina Hurricanes 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Jan. 5 vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7 p.m. ET

Ottawa Senators

  • Dec. 19 vs. Boston Bruins, 5 p.m. ET
  • Dec. 21 vs. St. Louis Blues, 7 p.m. ET
  • Dec. 23 vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
  • Dec. 29 vs. Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Dec. 31 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 1 p.m. ET
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