NBA says Covid vaccine required for referees

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MARCH 4: The NBA logo before the game between Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs on March 4, 2021 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Logan Riely / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

The NBA said Saturday it will require Covid-19 vaccinations for all referees working games in the 2021-22 season.

The league said in a statement that the requirement was agreed with the National Basketball Referees Association. It allows some exemptions for religious or medical reasons.

“The referees have also agreed to take any recommended boosters,” the league said. “Any referee who does not get vaccinated and is not exempt will be ineligible to work games.”

The announcement comes a day after several US media outlets reported the NBA had informed teams that all personnel who work in physical proximity to players or referees during games must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

ESPN, citing a memo sent by the NBA to teams on Friday, said the directive specifically includes coaches, front-office members and trainers but stops short of requiring all players to be vaccinated.”

League-wide vaccination of players is subject to negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association.

According to ESPN, the league set an October 1 deadline for team personnel to be fully vaccinated.

Broadcasters, photographers and security personnel who operate near the court are included in the directive, along with locker-room attendants, medical staff, equipment managers, and food and beverage handlers and providers.

The regular season tips off on October 19, when the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks host the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster opening-night double-header.