Israel Dagg has weighed in on the situation surrounding Tai Webster, the New Zealand Breakers guard who was released from his contract after refusing to get a COVID vaccination.
Webster’s position on getting vaccinated would have made it difficult for him to travel in Australia with hard borders in place from state governments, and the federal government chasing 80% of its population to be fully vaccinated.
The 26-year-old had a strong season earlier this year, prompting him to sign a new two-year deal in July.
Dagg believes Webster won’t be the last player in this situation and anticipates a similar storyline to play out more often.
“Tai Webster is the first major athlete this has happened to, and he won’t be the last,” he said on SENZ’s Baz and Izzy for Breakfast.
“That is their decision, but if you want to play sport and you want to be able to travel in the world, you are going to have to get a vaccination.
“For me, the vaccination is the only way forward to get some normality back in our lives.
“(CEO of the Breakers) Matt Walsh has said they’ve got not got rid of him, the door’s not shut for Tai Webster.
“But at the moment they say, ‘no vaccine no play.’ They’re playing in an Australian state that is tight-knit, they don’t want any COVID outbreaks.”
Dagg is “irritated” by the reasoning to not get the vaccination, saying it’s the new “way it is” that people who choose not to can’t play international sport.
“Look, it is one of those things that is a touchy subject,” he said.
“Tai Webster has made that decision and good on him, but he’s not allowed to play and that’s just the way it is.
“One thing that really irritates me is there are a lot of people out there that don’t take the vaccine, but they don’t mind shoving other things in their body that they have no idea about. They’re out shoving stuff in their body that they’ve got no idea where it comes from, but then they read some conspiracy in the media and think ‘I’m not taking that (vaccine).’
“These people think it’s their choice to go out there and put it on their social media and say, ‘if you get vaccinated you’re a mug.’”
The NBL season is scheduled to start on November 18, with the Breakers likely to be based in Australia due to the country’s hard borders.