Professional athletes who have not yet received one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines won’t be allowed to travel to Canada beginning on January 15, minister of public safety Marco Mendicino announced on Friday (link via CBC.ca).
Currently, NBA players who aren’t fully vaccinated are permitted to enter the country and play against the Raptors in Toronto under a national interest exemption. However, Mendicino said that exemption will be scrapped in January due to the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccines. Players who remain unvaccinated will be ineligible to play in games in Toronto as of January 15.
Although the change figures to affect several players around the NBA, it won’t impact many of the league’s most noteworthy unvaccinated players. For instance, Bradley Beal and the Wizards will make their final visit of the season to Toronto on December 5, at which point Beal will still be permitted to play. Jonathan Isaac‘s Magic will make their last trip to Toronto on December 20.
Kyrie Irving‘s Nets will play in Toronto on March 1, but unless New York City alters its own vaccine mandate, there’s no indication Irving will be playing by then. Michael Porter Jr. is also reportedly unvaccinated, but the Nuggets forward may still be sidelined due to his back injury when the team travels to Toronto on February 12.
During training camp, the Raptors indicated that they were one second dose away from having a fully vaccinated roster, so no Toronto players should be affected by the change.