About 96% of NBA players have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to league officials. While there are a few high-profile holdouts — Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn (who is not with the team because of the vaccine mandate in New York City) and Bradley Beal, among others — most players have done what is best to protect themselves and their loved ones around them by getting a vaccine that has proven to be safe and effective.
However, the handful that are not vaccinated will soon not be able to travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors in games as the government there is about to end the vaccine exemption for athletes. Here are the details, via CBC Sports.
Unvaccinated professional and amateur athletes will no longer be able to travel to Canada as of January 15, minister of public safety Marco Mendicino said on Friday.
Currently, NBA and NHL players who have yet to receive one of Canada’s approved COVID-19 vaccines are able to enter the country under a national interest exemption. But Mendicino said that is changing due to the wide availability of vaccines.
“As of January 15th, there will no longer be an exemption in place for professional and amateur athletes,” he said.
Bradley Beal and the Wizards play in Toronto Dec. 5, their second and final trip north of the border, so he will not miss games due to the new rules. Michael Porter Jr. of Denver is unvaccinated and the Nuggets play at the Raptors Feb. 12. There may be other players unable to travel north as well.
Much like with the mandate in New York (and San Francisco, although it has not impacted the Warriors), this is a government action and the team and leagues have to comply. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed this before the season.
“I think it’s perfectly appropriate that New York and other cities have passed laws that require people who both work and visit arenas to be vaccinated,” Silver said. “That seems to be a responsible public health decision made by those locales, and those are the circumstances in which the Nets find themselves operating. I accept that. I think that we understand as a league we have to play the cards that are dealt, just in the same way there are variations from market to market.”