The NBA Players Heading to Tokyo Olympics Should be Required to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
This is not a political argument, this is a health and safety issue. Everyone who enjoys sports is excited about the Tokyo Olympics, but the event will go down in flames if players are not taking precautionary measures. The shot is free, there are 159 million Americans fully vaccinated and it is the easiest way to lessen the chance of spreading COVID-19.
These United States athletes will be competing against people from other countries who may have different protocols for the pandemic and they will be returning back to the states, carrying not just their luggage, and hopefully a few medals, but possibly the disease too if they don’t get vaccinated. For this reason, athletes should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics without receiving the vaccine.
People may argue that this is taking away the athletes’ freedom. However, universities across the country are requiring students to be fully vaccinated before returning to class in the Fall. If students have to get the vaccine, professional athletes who will be exposed to many different people and traveling should too.
It was recently announced that Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards will not compete in the Tokyo Olympics because he is under health and safety protocols for reasons related to COVID-19.
Beal is not the only player on the U.S. Basketball Men’s National Team facing issues related to the coronavirus. Forward Jerami Grant is now undergoing health and safety protocols as well. It is unclear at this time whether he will be able to compete for Team USA.
There is still time for USA Basketball to replace Beal; however, it is ridiculous that they have to. Beal, Grant and all of the other players should have received the vaccine before they were allowed to begin any training or competition with Team USA. They have now put all of the other players at risk who may or may not have the vaccine. This could have all been avoided by simply requiring that athletes take the vaccine.
Now the replacement will have to find their “groove” with a team that is already struggling in chemistry. Because they were unvaccinated, these players have put Team USA in a difficult position and have possibly lessened their chances of defending gold.
All players currently on the roster for Team USA should be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine, and I’m not just talking about basketball. This incident has shown how quickly this can disrupt a team and threaten athletes’ participation in the Olympics. Having unvaccinated athletes travel together to another country, compete against others from around the world, and then having them return to the United States when they could be carrying COVID is not a smart move.
If players refuse to be vaccinated, and cannot prove religious or health reasons that prevent them from doing so, they should not be allowed to compete in Tokyo this year for Team USA. The pandemic is mostly “over” thanks to this vaccine and unvaccinated teams are risking people’s health unnecessarily. When you are exposed to this many people every day, the vaccine becomes less of a personal choice. Athletes are supposed to care about their teammates; prove it and get vaccinated.
Should the U.S. Basketball Men’s National Team Worry?
This is cause for concern. How many other athletes, coaches, and staff were exposed who are unvaccinated as well? It’s time for reform in rules surrounding the vaccine and Olympic athletes for Team USA. The team still has its main players and the time to make necessary replacements, but the chemistry was already messed up and these moves aren’t going to help that. This is another blow for the team that is already facing adversity after losing two games in a row to Argentina; a team they were expected to beat easily. Team USA needs to regroup and consider making some important rule changes in light of the pandemic.
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