NBA players will not be able to travel to Canada to play the Toronto Raptors this season without a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine or a medical exemption, the league announced in a memo obtained by The Athletic. Teams must list players who don’t meet this requirement set by the Canadian government as “Out due to Health and Safety Protocols” and will see a reduction in pay.
News of the memo was first reported by Bleacher Report.
These rules went into effect midway through the 2021-22 season and did not allow unvaccinated players — including Nets star guard Kyrie Irving — to play the Raptors on the road. The United States has a similar policy for those entering the country from outside the U.S.
“The Canadian government generally requires all individuals entering Canada to have completed the primary course of an accepted vaccine for COVID-19, including any applicable waiting period following the final dose of such course,” the memo read. “Thus, any player who does not meet this requirement and does not have a valid, documented medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine remains unable to enter Canada to play games in Toronto.
“Absent an approved bona fide medical or religious exemption to vaccination (the determination of which will be made by the league office), any player who is not up to date on COVID-19 vaccination and fails to provide services called for under his Player Contract as a result of his failure to comply with a government order, including the Canadian and U.S. requirements above, will not be considered to have a proper and reasonable cause or excuse for failing to provide such services and shall be subject to a reduction of his Compensation by the NBA or his team.”