NBL star’s contract torn up over anti-vax stance


NBL star Tai Webster has had his contract torn up by the New Zealand Breakers after he displayed an unwillingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Webster signed a two-year extension with the breakers in July, but was released from his contract by “mutual consent”, according to a team statement.

The 26-year-old guard is the first athlete to lose a deal over a vaccination stance in an Australian professional sporting code.

READ MORE: Aussie Olympic champion Madi Wilson hospitalised with COVID-19

Despite having his contract torn up, Breakers owner Matt Walsh said he respected Webster’s decision to remain unvaccinated, and left the door open for him to return in the future.

“Tai was amazing for us last year and we wish him the absolute best. I fully support each player’s freedom of choice in regards to the vaccine,” Walsh said in the team statement.

“The club will keep the door open for Tai, but unfortunately we are living in extraordinary times and without being vaccinated he will not have freedom of travel which would allow him to play for us this season.”

The NBL itself has not yet made vaccinations mandatory for its players, but league commissioner Jeremy Loeliger warned earlier this month that unvaccinated players would face difficulties travelling between certain states.

“At this point, we are not going to mandate vaccinations for players, coaches and staff, but we will continue to educate our people and will strongly recommend it,” Loeliger said in a statement on September 9 after a Sydney Kings player contracted the virus.

“It may be that those who don’t get vaccinated won’t be able to travel between states and countries, or even enter certain venues, and therefore won’t be able to participate in some games when the season begins.

“Individuals that decide not to get vaccinated could be subjected to different rules depending on various government protocols and restrictions.”

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