Malcolm Duvivier and the Fraser Valley Bandits are now scheduled to return to the court inside the Abbotsford Centre on June 26. (File photo)

Malcolm Duvivier and the Fraser Valley Bandits are now scheduled to return to the court inside the Abbotsford Centre on June 26. (File photo)

Fraser Valley Bandits season opener postponed to June 24

Canadian Elite Basketball League pushes back 2021 season due to COVID-19

The Fraser Valley Bandits return to the court has been delayed due to the ongoing challenges being posed across the country by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Elite Basketball League made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing the league start date has been moved from June 5 to June 24.

The Bandits will now open the season against the Edmonton Stingers in the Alberta capital on June 24, and then host the Saskatchewan Rattlers inside the Abbotsford Centre on June 26.

The CEBL has four teams in Ontario, where numbers are surging and additional restrictions have been put in place in recent weeks.

It’s also now unlikely that the season will begin with fans in attendance, but if numbers drastically improve that could become a possibility later this summer. The CEBL regular season is scheduled to wrap up on Aug. 8.

“Getting our players onto the basketball court and accommodating our fans in a safe manner continues to be our priority,” stated CEBL commissioner Mike Morreale in a press release. “Out of respect for the gravity of the mounting challenges that people, businesses, government and medical leaders, and most importantly frontline workers are experiencing in many of our teams’ markets, we now also feel it would be tone-deaf to not delay the start of our season as late as we can while still respecting the integrity of a season in which we plan to play in each of our seven team markets.”

The CEBL added in the press release that they have been working with government and health officials in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario where its seven teams are based on return to play protocols.

The CEBL cannot push back the end date of its regular season because its players also compete professionally in other top international leagues or in the NBA G League, and players must report to those clubs by the end of August.

The season was originally scheduled to begin on May 8, but was postponed back in April.

RELATED: Fraser Valley Bandits season postponed

The Bandits home dates are now scheduled to be: June 26 vs. Saskatchewan, June 29 vs. Niagara, July 1 vs. Saskatchewan, July 3 vs. Ottawa, July 14 vs. Guelph, July 25 vs. Edmonton and July 27 vs. Edmonton.

The CEBL news comes on the heels of an announcement by the Canadian Football League on Wednesday, which revised that league’s schedule and also pushed the Grey Cup back to Dec. 12.