National Basketball Association and National Hockey League players must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 15, 2022, or they will be banned from playing in Canada.
Sports writer Shams Charania said he learned from sources that NBA players coming into Toronto to play the Raptors must be vaccinated by Jan. 15 to play in the games.
“Beginning Jan. 15, any NBA player who is not fully vaccinated will be unable to enter Canada to play games in Toronto,” Charania tweeted on Tuesday. “Canadian government will require all individuals entering Canada to be fully vaccinated.”
The ban is in line with what Canadian government officials announced last month, imposing a vaccine mandate on anyone entering the country, with no exceptions for professional or amateur athletes.
Canada's minister of public safety, Marco Mendicino, announced Nov. 19 that athletes would have to be fully vaccinated to enter the country and play, the CBC reported at the time.
"As of January 15th, there will no longer be an exemption in place for professional and amateur athletes," he said in the November story.
According to the article, the NBA has reported a vaccination rate of 95%, and the NHL, which has seven Canadian home teams, said only four players were not vaccinated at that time.
The CBC reported that it is not yet clear if unvaccinated Canadian players on U.S. teams would be allowed to reenter the country.
NBA star Kyrie Irving is banned from playing with his team, the Brooklyn Nets, until he gets vaccinated due to local restrictions in New York, while Canadian Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors eventually took the vaccine to avoid restrictions on his play, the CBC reported.
The mandate is in line with a broader vaccine requirement for travel in and out of Canada, which started Nov. 30.
The new mandate removes exemptions for those returning to reunite with their families, international students over age 18, cross-border essential workers, and most temporary foreign workers, the article said.
As of Dec. 3, the Canadian government reported that it had a fully vaccinated rate of 75.86% of the population.
According to the World Heath Organization, Canada has reported a total of 1.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 29,757 deaths out of a total population of more than 36 million people.
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