Speak league statement:
The NBA announced today that it has reached an agreement with the National Basketball Referees Association requiring the vaccination of all referees working for NBA games during the 2021-22 season.
The agreement specifies that all referees must be fully immunized, unless they have a religious or medical exemption. The referees also agreed to take all recommended boosters. Any referee who will not be vaccinated and who is not exempt will be ineligible for working matches.
The National Association of Basketball Referees (NBRA) voted on the deal ahead of the announcement and agreed it was the right decision.
“This agreement is a win-win”, the NBRA said in a statement. “This supports the NBA’s goal of creating a safer on-court environment and continuity of play while protecting the health and well-being of officials; a clear example of when workers and management work together for the common good of collective affairs. “
The announcement comes after it was reported earlier in the week that the league would also require any team, arena and staff who regularly interact with players and referees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, par The Athletic’s Shams Charania. This understand coaches, front office members, medical and equipment staff, player development, team and arena safety, social media team, public relations staff and those who work at the goalscoring table. This also includes all staff who will be working near the court, such as broadcasters and photographers. Internal teams and arena operations will also need to be vaccinated, such as locker room attendants and those who provide food and drink. The deadline for team staff to be fully immunized is October 1, according to Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
Players are not required to be vaccinated, but last season the league and the NBPA agreed that some COVID-19 restrictions would be relaxed if a certain vaccination threshold was reached team-by-team. Some league players have pleaded for people to get the shots, while also sharing photos of getting the shots themselves.
The league is hoping it doesn’t have as many postponed games as it did a season ago if much of the league is vaccinated. The 2021-22 regular season begins October 19, and training camps are slated to begin in late September.