The Vancouver Canucks NHL ice hockey team has been given the green light to play home games at Rogers Arena this season, albeit without fans.

John Horgan, the Premier of British Columbia, confirmed the news in a tweet following discussions with Canucks owner Francesco Aquillini. Horgan said the enhanced health measures being put in place at Rogers Place will ensure that games can be played safely at the arena.

The NHL will begin a shortened 56-game regular season on January 13, with teams set to play at their home arenas. The league has been split into North, West, Central and East divisions, with the North division to only feature the NHL’s seven Canadian franchises.

British Columbia is the second Canadian province to approve NHL games, joining Alberta, home of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.

The NHL’s four other Canadian teams – Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators – have yet to receive the green light from their respective provincial governments to allow them to play at their home arenas.

The 2019-20 NHL season was suspended last March due to COVID-19, with the campaign eventually concluding in August and September. All games were held within centralised hubs in the Canadian cities of Toronto and Edmonton, but teams will play at their own arenas this season after the schedule was confirmed last month.

Travel-related restrictions in Canada have forced the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball team to begin the 2020-21 season at Florida’s Amalie Arena, home of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. The Raptors are the NBA’s only Canadian team and had sought to begin the season at Scotiabank Arena, but with cross-border travel to the US limited the team was forced to seek an alternative.

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