CFL pushing back start of 2021 season to Aug. 5, cuts number of games per team to 14

The Canadian Football League is pushing back the start of its 2021 season and reducing the number of games played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league announced Wednesday that it plans to kick off the season Aug. 5, nearly two months later than originally planned.

The original schedule was slated to open June 10 with each team playing a full 18-game regular season, but with Canada dealing with a third wave of the virus, the CFL board of governors also decided to reduce the schedule to 14 games. The decision also pushes back the Grey Cup game three weeks, to Dec. 12 in Hamilton, Ontario.

The league stressed that the schedule revision is merely a target date because of the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic. Four of the CFL's nine franchises operate in Quebec and Ontario, and those provinces are besieged by a third wave of the pandemic. The CFL canceled last season due to the pandemic.

The league hopes the delay will allow for more Canadians to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations and thus increase chances of fans being in the stands at some point once football resumes. That's crucial for teams, which are heavily reliant on ticket sales to generate operating revenue.