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Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto said he refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19, even it if means missing Philadelphia’s two-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays this week.
Players who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 are not allowed to enter Canada due to the country’s restrictions. In addition, players will not be paid for the games they miss as part of Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.
Realmuto will lose about $262,000 for missing the series, which he called “a little bit of money,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Realmuto signed a five-year, $115.5 million contract with the Phillies in January 2021.
In a video shared on Twitter by NBC Sports Philadelphia, Realmuto was asked what his hesitations were with getting vaccinated.
“I’m a 31-year-old professional athlete who had COVID several times with mild symptoms,” he said.
“When it came time to decide whether I needed the vaccine or not I talked to a couple of doctors that I knew, told them my story and just really decided I didn’t think I needed it. I wasn’t going to take it just because I was told to basically.”
J.T. Realmuto on not being able to join the Phillies in Toronto due to his vaccination status: pic.twitter.com/7suM66OYaB
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 12, 2022
When asked about forfeiting a “good amount of salary” for missing the games, Realmuto responded:
“What’s money when I’m not going to let Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body for a little bit of money. It’s not worth it.”
“My teammates know how I feel about them and how bad I want to be out there with them,” Realmuto said. “But it’s just unfortunate that I’m not able to make the trip.”
Numerous athletes have spoken out against receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
Tennis champion Novak Djokovic, who last weekend won his fourth straight title at Wimbledon, said he has no plans to get vaccinated in order to bypass restrictions to enter the U.S. for the US Open in August.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated,” Djokovic said at the Wimbledon Championship, “so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandate green vaccine card — or whatever you call it to enter the United States — or exemption.”
Djokovic said he doesn’t think an exemption is “realistically possible.” It’s just a matter of whether or not the U.S. removes the requirement in time for him to attend the tournament, he said.
U.S. requirements for proof of vaccination bar Djokovic’s entry into the country where he would normally compete at the US Open.
When interviewed by BBC News, Djokovic said, “The principles of decision-making on my body are more important than anything else.”
Tennis champ Novak Djokovic, who last weekend won his fourth straight title at Wimbledon, said he has no plans to get vaccinated in order to bypass restrictions to enter the U.S. for the U.S. Open in August.https://t.co/LphZRdqH5O
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) July 13, 2022
In an exclusive interview with wrestling champion Kyle Dake on “RFK Jr The Defender Podcast,” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Dake discussed the increasing pressures on athletes to conform to medical mandates — and the struggle to fight against them.
Dake, a bronze medalist at the Olympics in Tokyo and a three-time world champion for the U.S. said he received an email from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) that said, there will be a [COVID] vaccine mandate from now on to compete in any event or within sports sponsored by the USOPC.
Dake told Kennedy the pressure on him and other athletes was so great he formed Athletes for Medical Freedom, an organization that defends the personal autonomy of those who want to compete without having to comply with the mandates.
Earlier this year, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving was allowed to attend a Nets game against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center in Brooklyn — but wasn’t allowed to play in the game, or enter the locker room as a Nets employee because he was unvaccinated.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) fined the Nets $50,000 for “violating New York City law and league health and safety protocols” at Sunday’s game after Irving entered the locker room.
At a Citi Field press conference held in March 2021, Mayor Eric Adams officially expanded NYC’s vaccine mandate exemption for athletes and performers, including the Mets, Yankees and Irving, because the city had to function.
Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac is another athlete who has spoken out against COVID-19 vaccine requirements for players.
“I am not anti-vax, I’m not anti-medicine, I am not anti-science. I didn’t come to my current stance by studying Black history or watching Donald Trump press conferences (as the story states). I have nothing but the utmost respect for every healthcare worker and person in Orlando and all across the world that have worked tirelessly to keep us safe.
“… But with that being said, it is my belief that the vaccine status of every person should be their own choice. Completely up to them without bullying, without being pressured, without being forced into doing so. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m uncomfortable with taking the vaccine at this time. We’re all different. We all come from different places. We’ve all had different experiences and hold dear to different beliefs. And what it is you do with your body when it comes to putting medicine in there should be your choice, free of the ridicule and the opinion of others.”
Isaac went on to say that he had already acquired COVID-19 in the past and had antibodies, so with his current age group and physical fitness level, the virus just wasn’t a fear of his.
Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors forward, pushed back against vaccine mandates and applied for a religious exemption with the NBA to opt out.
His exemption was denied and an anonymous NBA executive believes Wiggins was pressured to get vaccinated before the 2021-22 season.
According to David Aldridge of The Athletic, the executive said, “The message was sent. Take the f–king shot. We have a chance to win. [Wiggins’ potential absence] will f–k with our winning.”
Wiggins announced in October he was vaccinated in order to avoid missing any games. According to Nick Friedel from ESPN, Wiggins felt he was forced to get vaccinated after the NBA denied his religious exemption.