Unvaccinated NBA Players Unwelcome In Canada

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on December 10, 2021 - Last Updated on June 29, 2022
Thousands of people gathering for Toronto Raptor's NBA championship parade in downtown Toronto

When it comes to vaccines, Canada is serious.

 As of Jan. 15, 2022, unvaccinated NBA players can no longer enter the country.

The current exemptions allow entry for NBA and NHL players who have yet to receive one of the federally approved COVID-19 vaccines. 

But that’s about to change.

Minister of public safety Marco Mendicino announced the change earlier this week. The policy means unvaccinated professional and amateur athletes can’t cross the border.

“As of Jan. 15, there will no longer be an exemption in place for professional and amateur athletes,” Mendicino said.

In other words, those who remain unvaccinated will be unable to play against the Raptors in Toronto. Not only that, that status blocks them from all seven Canadian NHL teams’ arenas.

The Toronto Raptors officially hit 100% fully vaccinated in October. As for NBA players, 97% got their shots. And 60% have already received booster doses. 

Choice without a choice

“Raptors are a fully vaccinated team, so they’ll be unaffected by these changes, but according to recent reports, 3% of the NBA’s players remain unvaccinated,” said TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.

The individuals ineligible to play in Toronto would face additional consequences. Such players could receive reduced compensation or be subject to a fine, suspension, or other penalties.

One of the highest-profile sportsmen to refuse vaccination, Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving, cannot play home games. The Nets have said they won’t let him join the team until he can be a full participant.

“Please, just respect my privacy,” Irving said. “All the questions kind of leading into what’s happening, just please – everything will be released at a due date, and once we get this cleared up … I know that I’ll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team.”

Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins hesitated too but chose to get a shot before the season to avoid the restrictions.

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal is also not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac also revealed earlier that he is not vaccinated. He said he has “natural immunity” after previously having the virus.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina is a Toronto-based online gambling writer who holds a master's degree in journalism. Before joining PlayCanada, she was part of the AskGamblers crew where she reported about the world of online casinos and interviewed numerous iGaming experts. Being in the industry for 5 years, she became an expert in online slots.

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