By Jerry Wein
The Washington Post is reporting that the NBA will not require its players to be vaccinated against the coronavirus this season.
The players’ union is opposing a vaccine mandate, and approximately 85 percent of NBA players are already vaccinated.
The NBA came to an agreement last month with the referees’ union that requires all of them to be vaccinated. In addition, there are vaccine mandates for all team, arena and other game-day personnel whose duties require them to be within 15 feet of players, referees and areas used by players or referees.
In a memo sent to NBA teams this month, the league noted it would adhere to laws enacted by local governments regarding vaccination requirements. It specifically cited recent regulations in New York and San Francisco that would, in effect, bar any unvaccinated players for the Knicks, Nets and Warriors from participating in home games. The NBA also noted in the memo that an unvaccinated player who lacked an approved exemption on medical or religious grounds, and whose status in that regard limited his availability to his team, could be considered in breach of his contractual duties and thus subject to fines, suspensions and/or loss of pay.
Major U.S. professional leagues are already in compliance with sweeping vaccine mandates announced recently by President Biden. Rates of player vaccination in the NBA, as well as in MLB and the NFL, are well above overall rates for the country.
The NBA’s full array of coronavirus-related protocols this season is still being negotiated with the union, but players who have not been inoculated may face more stringent measures, including mandatory testing on days of games and practices, than their vaccinated teammates.
NBA training camps open this month, and the regular season starts Oct. 19.