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Vaccine policy causes Elks attendance to be lowest since '60s

The most recent game between the Edmonton Elks and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium faced delays after there weren’t enough people that showed up.

The Edmonton Journal speculates that "... the crowd would be the lowest since the EE played in Clarke Stadium in the 1960s. There were at least 67 per cent empty seats in the 56,400-seat stadium. The announced attendance was 23,310."

This isn't only occurring in Edmonton. Friday night in Regina saw COVID cases spike, leading enough Roughriders fans to stay home - to the point that columnist Rob Vanstone referred to Mosaic Stadium as “sparsely populated.”

During the game Vanstone tweeted: “Tonight’s attendance: Jim, Bill, Angie, Shirley, Gus …,” a joke at the behest of the miniscule crowd. The most common estimate of actual fans in the stands to watch the Riders 30-16 win over the Toronto Argos was in the range of 17,000 - even less than the Elks game.

Why the decline? Saskatchewan had previously announced a new policy in which fans were required to show proof of full vaccinations or provide a recent negative test for COVID-19 to gain admission to the stadium for Friday’s game. In Regina, the Roughriders, concerned about lineups, were consequently forced to organize pre-screening sessions Thursday and Friday. Likewise, Thursday also saw the Elks announce a requirement of proof of a single vaccination or negative COVID-19 within the last 72 hours.

Edmonton had delayed the implantation until their October 15 game but with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declaring a health emergency and introducing a vaccination passport that he insists on calling a “province-wide restriction exemption program” on Wednesday the team was forced to react.

It appears that fans are simply staying home due to COVID numbers or exhaustion with having to be tested at every which way. Of course, the Roughriders' disappointing numbers may be due to fan disappointment after they failed to score a single touchdown against Winnipeg back on Labour Day. But - that doesn't explain the Elks' low showing, which leads us to conclude the above is the only natural explanation.

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