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NBA teams start training camp this week, and while many hoped to be hearing about roster changes and goals for the season, many teams were asked about vaccination controversy during media sessions Monday.
The NBA will not require players to get vaccinated but has incentives for players to be vaccinated, them to roll up their sleeves with separate protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, the Los Angeles Times reports.
While players won’t be required to get vaccinated, a vast majority already have been. The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reports that around 90% of the league’s players are vaccinated.
“Player vaccination rate has been rising as training camps open next week,” Charania said.
Unvaccinated players will be subject to a much stricter set of health and safety protocols compared to their vaccinated peers. ESPN reports that players will have lockers as far away as possible from their vaccinated teammates and will have to eat, fly and ride buses in different sections as part of the league’s anticipated COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The league won’t test fully vaccinated players regularly this season.
The NBA informed teams at the end of August that all coaches and staff members — and game night staff that work within 15 feet of players or referees — must be fully vaccinated. OutKick previously reported the NBA and the referee’s union announced an agreement for all referees to be vaccinated, as well.
In early September, ESPN reported the proposed rules are not final and subject to ongoing talks with the players association, but the guidelines make it clear that vaccinated and unvaccinated players will have very different off-court experiences during the upcoming season.
Unvaccinated players in markets with local COVID restrictions will now be banned from arenas unless they have a medical or religious exemption. Players on the Warriors (San Francisco), Nets (New York), or Knicks (New York) who have not been vaccinated won’t be allowed to play in their home arenas.
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