Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which has been in place since January, requires all visiting NBA players to be fully vaccinated to appear in games in Toronto. And unless that rule changes soon, a playoff matchup against the Raptors could create some issues for opposing teams.
Nets star Kyrie Irving’s refusal to receive the vaccine has been well-documented, and New York recently lifted its mandate, allowing Irving to play in home games again. But visiting players were always allowed to play in Brooklyn regardless of their vaccine status, so the situation around the league was less clear.
Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford all missed the Celtics game in Toronto Monday night. Brown and Tatum were held out with knee soreness, and Horford sat for personal reasons. Tatum has publicly stated that he is fully vaccinated.
Horford was asked about his status after the loss to the Heat Wednesday.
“Yeah, we’re clear on it, and I’ll be ready to play wherever,” he said.
The Celtics have declined to comment publicly on the vaccine status of individual players. Udoka said that, ultimately, the players have to decide on their own whether to take the vaccine.
“It’s up to them, that’s their decision,” Udoka said. “But it’s been two years now that that’s all been on the table and everybody knows the restrictions or whatever. And so we leave that up to the guys. It’s their personal choice. And there’s not much discussion that we have with them.”
Read more from the Celtics-Heat game:
- ‘This was a good test:’ Ime Udoka, Celtics saw from the Heat how they’ll be defended in the playoffs
- Celtics lose to Heat, and get reminded there’s a lot of work to do if they want to remain on top of the East
- The Celtics lost a key player for the playoff push — we’ve seen this before in Boston
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.