NBA not mandating vaccination for players

LOS ANGELES • The National Basketball Association (NBA) will exempt its players from getting the Covid-19 vaccine while mandating that referees and most staff get vaccinated, ESPN said on Tuesday.

The league and players' association are continuing to negotiate other Covid-19 protocols for the upcoming season, but the vaccine mandate is a non-starter with the union, according to the report.

However, the league is putting forth strict protocols for players who are not vaccinated.

Those protocols, not agreed upon yet, could include eating and travelling apart from vaccinated teammates via separate planes and coaches as well as being located in a different part of the locker room.

They will also reportedly be subject to three Covid-19 tests and must present a negative test on practice/travel day and two negative tests on game day.

Measures for vaccinated players are set to be relaxed with no regular testing in place. Roughly 85 per cent of players are vaccinated, the league said.

The league informed teams last month that personnel who work within 4.5 metres of players or officials during games are required to get vaccinated by Oct 1.

Vaccination rules in New York and San Francisco also mean unvaccinated players on the rosters of the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors will not be allowed to play in home games unless there is an approved medical or religious excuse.

However, visiting players on opposition teams will be exempt from those vaccination requirements.

Meanwhile, NBA coaches will be allowed to dress casually again during the 2021-22 season, The Stein Line reported on Tuesday.

In a practice that began in the bubble near Orlando in the pandemic-shortened season of 2019-20, coaches will once again be allowed to ditch suits in favour of polos and quarter-zips this upcoming season. Coaches were required to wear suits - with collared shirts made mandatory in 2010 - up until the restart of the league in the bubble in the summer of last year.

The 2021-22 season starts on Oct 19.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2021, with the headline 'NBA not mandating vaccination for players'. Subscribe