While the return of packed stadiums this year has brought a renewed sense of optimism in the sporting world that the worst of Covid-19 is in the past, certain teams must still adhere to vaccination mandates set by local governments.
The NBA had warned the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors that vaccine protocols set by their home cities would prohibit their players from participating in home games in New York City and San Francisco if they were not vaccinated or exempted. The cities’ vaccination policies do not apply to players from visiting teams who compete at their arenas.
The Knicks have fully vaccinated all its players following the NBA’s warning, CNN has learned, while the Nets and Warriors have yet to clear the threshold or gain exemptions otherwise.
Knicks general manager Scott Perry had a sit-down, off-camera interview with reporters Friday, the team told CNN, and said players along with coaches and staff are in compliance with New York City’s required vaccination rules.
In Brooklyn, some of the Nets’ players are not yet eligible, but general manager Sean Marks told reporters that he’s confident everyone will be allowed to participate by the start of the NBA season on October 19. Training camps for NBA teams start Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Andrew Wiggins of the Warriors sought to be exempt from the vaccination rules over religious reasons, but the NBA denied his request, the league said Friday in a statement.
“Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfills the city’s vaccination requirements,” the NBA said.
CNN has reached out to Wiggins’ representation for comment. The Warriors on Friday declined to comment.
Players are not required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to play, a source with knowledge of negotiations between the league and the players’ union told CNN earlier this month.
No major professional sports league in the United States has required its players to be vaccinated, but a relaxing of Covid-19 safety procedures have often been granted after a threshold of vaccination is reached.
The NBA announced last month that it would require referees and other personnel who work with players during the 2021-22 season to be fully vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical exemption.
“The referees have also agreed to take any recommended boosters,” the league said in a statement last month. “Any referee who does not get vaccinated and is not exempt will be ineligible to work games.”
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