NBA Referees Will Be Required to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19 for 2021-22 Season

Adam WellsAugust 28, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 11:  NBA Referee, Angelica Suffren looks on during the game between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors during the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League on August 11, 2021 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

NBA referees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the 2021-22 regular season. 

Per a Saturday news release from the NBA, the league reached an agreement with the National Basketball Referees Association to require all game officials to be vaccinated:

Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds

The official word is now out: <a href="https://t.co/lPei95J9XJ">pic.twitter.com/lPei95J9XJ</a>

On Friday, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the league will require all "team, arena and personnel whose role involves interactions with players and referees" to be vaccinated before next season begins in order to have in-person contact.

This marks the first agreement between a major sports league and union to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

Even though NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league won't compel players to get vaccinated, he said he was confident the majority of them would choose to do so.

Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports in July that the vaccination rate among players was 90 percent.

Per ESPN's Ben Dowsett, the NBA employs 65 referees.

Saturday's agreement came exactly one month before teams open training camps Sept. 28. The preseason begins Oct. 3.

The 2021-22 regular season will start Oct. 19 with a doubleheader featuring the Brooklyn Nets taking on the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors visiting the Los Angeles Lakers.