Border Limits

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  • As sports continue to start back up, international travel restrictions could limit competition

The Canadian-U.S. border will be closed until at least June 21, but that won’t affect how the NHL plans to resume its season. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said NHL players and team staff fall into the category of “non-discretionary” purposes, including work, that can still cross the border.

The league is hoping to move forward with Phase 2 of its plan soon, which would open practice facilities to small groups of players. That step will be optional, as players could have difficulty with travel restrictions or submitting to a 14-day quarantine. Additionally, approximately 17% of NHL players are in Europe during the pandemic.

Travel restrictions could also limit full competitive balance in other sports. While the PGA Tour will resume play June 11, at least one top-50 golfer is wary of the restrictions. Englishman Lee Westwood said travel precautions will probably keep him from entering the country. He is one of an estimated 25 players on the Tour currently outside the U.S. 

International restrictions have also hit foreign fighters in the UFC. While the MMA organization held an event in Florida earlier this month, its plans for “Fight Island” would allow Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov and other international fighters back in action. UFC President Dana White said the island, the location of which is undisclosed, could be up and running before the end of June.