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25 Sep, 2021 11:29

NBA star Andrew Wiggins DENIED religious exemption from vaccine, ordered to miss home games until he receives jab

NBA star Andrew Wiggins DENIED religious exemption from vaccine, ordered to miss home games until he receives jab

A basketball star has had his request to skip receiving a Covid-19 vaccine for religious reasons denied by NBA chiefs, forcing him to miss his team's home games in San Francisco until he receives an inoculation.

Due to various Covid-19 restrictions in place in New York and San Francisco, players from the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors are required to be fully vaccinated in order to gain clearance to play in their home stadiums unless they are granted exemptions for religious or medical reasons.

Golden State Warriors' Andrew Wiggins, the 26-year-old first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, had applied for a religious exemption – but that has been flatly denied by league chiefs. Details on the specifics of Wiggins' request haven't yet been made public.

"The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins' request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health's order requiring Covid-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events," a statement said.

"Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfils the city's vaccination requirements."

The San Francisco Department of Public Health, meanwhile, had also made clear that vaccine exemptions would only be granted in very specific circumstances.

"Under the current order, if unvaccinated, they cannot enter indoor areas regardless of the reason they are unvaccinated and cannot test out of this requirement even if they have a medical or religious exemption,'' they said in a statement to the media.

Much like in the NFL, the NBA has announced a series of guidelines for unvaccinated players compared to their vaccinated counterparts including daily testing – but players from teams in New York and San Francisco remain subject to greater demands due to local restrictions.

The New York Knicks announced this week that 100% of their roster is fully vaccinated, meaning that none of the local restrictions will apply.

Nets general manager Sean Marks also affirmed that he expected his team to be fully vaccinated by the time the league season begins on October 19. 

The aggressive vaccine policy doesn't apply just to players, with the NBA having struck agreements with practically everyone involved in game days, including coaches, referees and stadium staff, to commit to receiving one of the various vaccines available. 

As ever with the issue of the impact of Covid-19 and its vaccines in sport, the reaction to Wiggins' religious exemption request being denied has been mixed.

"I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but this is gross. A vaccination should be a choice," said one.

"Shot selection has always been an issue for Andrew Wiggins," joked another.

"It’s a dumb mandate anyway because the visiting team doesn’t need to be vaccinated. People have lost their minds," added a third.

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