NBA reminds teams unvaccinated players can’t travel to Toronto after Jan. 15
Last month, Canadian Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino announced his nation was eliminating an athlete exemption and after Jan. 15 unvaccinated players would no longer be able to travel into Canada for competitions. That includes NBA players going to Toronto.
The NBA has now sent a memo to teams both confirming that news and asking for the names of unvaccinated players, according to multiple reports. Here are the details via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Any unvaccinated NBA player with temporary VISA status leaving the country will be unable to re-enter the United States, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. For example, a player would be unable to re-enter after playing in Canada, or traveling outside U.S. on All-Star weekend.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 7, 2021
NBA informed teams today that unvaccinated players will no longer be allowed to travel to Toronto to play games beginning on January 15, according to the memo. New Canadian law mandates that all visitors entering the country be vaccinated.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 7, 2021
Teams must furnish the league office with a list of unvaccinated players by Friday, memo says. The NBA says 97 percent of its players are vaccinated, and sources say more than 60 percent have received booster shots.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 7, 2021
As noted, it’s not clear how many players this impacts, but the vast majority of the NBA is vaccinated. Kyrie Irving is unvaccinated but is away from the Nets and not traveling with the team. Bradley Beal and the Wizards played in Toronto Sunday and do not travel north of the border again.
This is a decision by the Canadian government and the NBA has to follow the law on these matters. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed this before the season, talking about the vaccine mandates in New York and San Francisco (and now, Los Angeles), but the sentiment applies here.
“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.”