Anti-Covid-19 vaccine athletes and the price of the decision

In sport, it is not mandatory to receive the coronavirus vaccine, but increasingly it becomes an obstacle for athletes non-inoculated take part in the competitions due to the increasing restrictions imposed by government authorities to access some territories or closed areas. Therefore, athletes must also bear the financial consequences of missing out on these commitments.

The Economist conducted a review of sports stars who have openly opposed receiving the coronavirus vaccine in disciplines and leagues such as tennis, soccer, NBA, the NFL and the baseball, to know the management carried out by the leagues when the athletes do not agree with this health measure.

For events like Australian Open, the first tennis Grand Slam of the year, it is necessary to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or, failing that, receive a valid medical exemption in order to enter the country due to its health restrictions. In other leagues such as the NBA, which is practiced in closed arenas, the cities of New York and San Francisco require that their residents have at least one dose of the vaccine to be able to enter these venues, so if a basketball player is loses his work commitments for not complying with local Covid-19 guidelines, his salary per party is reduced by 91.6 percent.

In soccer, the Premier League It is one of the soccer leagues that has struggled the most with the immunization of its athletes with only 77% of its players fully vaccinated until the last week of December and 16% without a single dose. In the English league at the moment there are no economic consequences, but unvaccinated players must eat, change and travel separately from their fully vaccinated teammates and if they are in close contact with a positive case, they must isolate themselves for seven days, without training or availability to the selection even if they are not infected. In the NFL, unvaccinated players are subject to daily testing for Covid-19; must wear masks at all times on the premises; they cannot meet in groups of more than three players; They are prohibited from congregating, visiting or mingling with people outside of the travel group at visitor matches and, among other situations, are subject to fines if they violate Covid protocols, which could include anything from not wearing face masks on the premises, going to a concert indoors or attend a party with more than 15 people.


Despite his unvaccinated status, Novak Djokovic, the world’s number one tennis player, received an exemption to participate in the Australian Open, where he will seek to break the record for the most Grand Slam titles for a man. In case of Djokovic He was taken to court after being detained upon arrival in Australia and confined to an immigration detention center in Melbourne due to doubts in the evidence with which he obtained his exemption. On Monday a judge ordered his release and the tennis player is already preparing his participation, although the Australian government warned that he could still force his expulsion. Other tennis players such as the French Pierre-Hugues Herbert, current number 8 in doubles, or the American Tennys Sandgren, number 93 in singles, who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 by personal choice, contrary to the case of Djokovic, assumed that traveling to the Australian Open it was not an option for them. For the singles modality of the Australian Grand Slam, it is a prize for reaching the first round of $ 65,000 and winning it would mean a prize of 3.1 million. In doubles, entering the first round guarantees to pocket $ 18,000, while the winners take $ 577,000.


In line with the government mandates of states such as New York and California, in which at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine is required to access indoor gyms, the NBA and the players union (NBPA) agreed to a reduction of 91.6% of the salary per game lost to those who by lesson could not comply with the local mandates on Covid-19 and their work commitments.

This measure has forced players like the Warriors guard, Andrew Wiggins, to receive the vaccine before the start of the season because “the only options were to get vaccinated or not to play in the NBA.”

Wiggins had tried to get an exemption from the vaccine by disagreeing with not being able to decide on his body. Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving made the decision not to do so, prompting the board to disqualify him during both away and home games and practices until he became a player eligible to participate full-time under local Covid-19 vaccination requirements. However, the team reactivated the star in December for away games due to the need for players they had due to the number of infections that hit the team.

At the moment, Irving has only participated in one match of the 38 that the team has played, but the general manager of the Nets, Sean Marks, confirmed that the point guard would only lose his salary for 43 regular season games: 41 at Barclays Center, plus two at MSG and two other preseason games in Brooklyn, which is roughly 380,000 per game. So at the end of the season he will continue to receive 17 million of the 35 on his contract.

Players like the forward of the Orlando MagicJonathan Isaac, who has also decided not to get vaccinated, is free of gambling restrictions because both San Francisco and New York City have waivers that allow visiting players to play games in those arenas even if they are not vaccinated. Plus Orlando doesn’t have a Covid-19 mandate right now, so you can play games at home as well. However, the player must comply with restrictions such as not sharing the food room or the flight section with his companions.


The German international, Joshua Kimmich, had refused to receive the vaccine due to concerns about the long-term effects. Faced with such a statement made in October, Bayern Munich, his current team, pointed out that they supported the vaccination of their players to protect themselves against Covid-19 but it was not something mandatory within the club, but an individual decision. Despite his initial refusal, the German international announced in December his willingness to receive his dose after missing sporting activity with the German national team and its lightweight team for almost two months, due to his unvaccinated condition making him enter quarantined for having been in contact with a contagion and then for testing positive at the end of November, the infection left him sequelae that prevented him from returning to training.

Despite the club’s support, information from Picture on sunday, recovered by EFE, pointed out that Bayern cut the salary of the midfielder and four other players during the days they were in quarantine due to contact with an infected person, this due to the fact that they were not vaccinated against the coronavirus. According to a regulation that came into force in Germany in November, an employer is not obliged to pay the payroll to any worker who has had to enter quarantine and is not vaccinated by his own decision. Except for the Premier League, where the rate of fully vaccinated players is 77%, the other major leagues around it exceed 90% of complete vaccination schedules.


Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, He was infected in November with Covid-19 and stated that he was not vaccinated. He later exposed to the 1.6 million viewers of the Pat McAfee Show that he believed “strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make decisions about your body.”

The NFL fined the Green Bay Packers $ 300,000, and quarterback and wide receiver Allen Lazard $ 14,650 each, after the league found in a review that the team and its two players were not following protocols when each attend a Halloween party despite not being vaccinated.


While playing for the Cubs, Anthony Rizzo He was the first player on the team to openly declare his decision not to get the vaccine. Rizzo said in a conference call that it was a “life decision” made for “personal reasons.” He added that it was “taking more time to see the data” on the vaccine. A cancer survivor, Rizzo said he consulted with doctors and that it was a personal decision.

Percentages of complete vaccination in the main sports leagues:

  • 77% Premier League
  • 98% Serie A
  • 95% Ligue 1
  • 92% LaLiga
  • 92% Bundesliga
  • 94.6% NFL
  • 97% NBA
  • Less than 85% MLB

Source: ESPN as of December 24

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