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The NBA has turned down a request from Andrew Wiggins, a Golden State Warriors player, for a religious exemption from the coronavirus vaccine required in San Francisco to compete in major indoor events, including Warriors home games.
The league’s decision complicates matters for the team and for Mr Wiggins, a 26-year-old striker who was the No. 1 draft pick in 2014. He said in March that he had no plans to get the vaccine unless forced to do so.
The verdict means Mr. Wiggins will be banned from playing home games in San Francisco, where his team is based, unless he is vaccinated. The city ordered people to show they were vaccinated last month in order to attend large indoor events. A negative coronavirus test is not enough.
“Wiggins will not be able to play at Warriors home games until he meets the city’s vaccination regulations,” the NBA said on Twitter on Friday.
It remained unclear on Saturday on what basis Mr Wiggins requested a religious exception.
The NBA does not currently require players to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and the players union has vigorously opposed such a rule. Unvaccinated players will be allowed to play this season but will have to undergo daily tests. The league said this month that it would mandate vaccines for referees under an agreement with the union it represents.
Due to local regulations in New York and San Francisco, players in the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Golden State Warriors are subject to stricter rules and must be vaccinated unless otherwise provided for medical or religious reasons.
Mr. Wiggins, who is from Toronto, will likely be allowed to play most of the street games, but may not play against the Knicks and the Nets. New York City began demanding proof of vaccination for entry to many venues, including stadiums and sports arenas, last month.
The new NBA season is slated to begin next month and the Warriors’ first home game, a preseason matchup, will be played at the Chase Center on October 6th. The team is expected to play 44 home games, including three in the preseason between October and April.
Representatives of the Warriors did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday afternoon.