According to a report from Eric Atkins and Robert Fife of The Globe and Mail, the government of Canada is planning to drop its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for people entering the country by September 30.
If this reports eventually proves true, it will have significant ramifications for the sporting world, especially with the hockey and basketball seasons both set to begin in October. For the baseball world, this will primarily impact the Blue Jays and their opponents, with Toronto being the only Canadian team in Major League Baseball.
The requirement, which went into effect in January of 2022, prevented travellers who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 from entering the country. This meant that any player who had not received the vaccine could not cross the border for games played in Toronto. It was reported back in March that such players would be placed on the restricted list and would not receive pay or service time while absent from the club. This led to various batches of transactions throughout the season, with most teams placing at least a couple of players on the restricted list in advance of games set to be played north of the border. The most extreme example was the Royals, who were without 10 players when they faced the Blue Jays in July.
Though the 2022 baseball season is nearing its conclusion, this could have an impact on the tail end of it. The Blue Jays finish the regular season in Baltimore but host the Red Sox from September 30 to October 2. Beyond that, the Blue Jays are likely to qualify for the postseason, currently in possession of the top American League Wild Card spot. This season will feature an expanded 12-team postseason for the first time, as agreed to under the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. In this new format, the top two division winners in each league will get a bye past the first round. The remaining teams will face off in best-of-three contests, with the lowest-seeded division winner and top Wild Card team each playing host for all three games (if necessary). Should the Jays hang onto their current seeding, or if they advanced beyond the Wild Card round, their opponents will no longer have to worry about key players being unavailable for those games due to their unwillingness to get vaccinated.