The sports Covid chaos brewing from the athletes who refuse to get vaccinated

Plans were drawn up on Friday night to exclude Premier League footballers – and other UK-based sportspeople – who refuse to be vaccinated against coronavirus from the Government’s “elite sport exemption”.

The crackdown on anti-vaxx athletes would prevent them from training or competing for between five and 10 days while they are quarantined upon returning to the UK from a foreign country.

Here, Telegraph Sport takes a look at the potential impact on the sport:


The main target of the raid, with 16 per cent of Premier League players and 25 per cent of English Football League players unvaccinated, according to the latest figures. The move could prevent Premier League players from going on holiday in the upcoming winter break and affect their return from the Africa Cup of Nations. It could discourage such players from playing in away games in the Champions League and Europa League, or force them to miss domestic games on their return. It could also result in clubs refusing to clear them – including unvaccinated England players – for international use abroad. Any overseas pre-season tours could be impacted, as could players’ summer vacations. Not to mention the World Cup at the end of the year.

rugby union

Six Nations games and European club games could be the first to be hit by a rule change, with Henry Slade – who told Telegraph Sport last year he had yet to receive a vaccine – among the potential victims. Elite rugby union games are only played once a week to allow players a proper rest, but those not stung could still miss games if they were suspended from training beforehand. England, Scotland and Wales will tour Australia, Argentina and South Africa respectively this summer and non-jabbed players would be affected on their return to the UK. Premiership Rugby says 96 per cent of its players have been fully vaccinated.


With Australia’s refusal to allow Novak Djokovic to enter the country, it’s safe to say that all of England’s Ashes squads are either fully vaccinated or have a real illness that means they can’t be. However, anyone in their Twenty20 squad who hasn’t been stung could be affected when they return from their five-game streak in the West Indies this month, as could any player taking part in the lucrative Indian Premier League.


While there would be no risk of an unstitched Brit not being able to play both the French Open and Wimbledon, he would need to ensure he was in the UK in time for the latter’s June 27 start date. Top players spend most of their lives touring and, apart from team competitions, only really play in Britain during the grass season. The government crackdown will not include non-residents so Djokovic should be free to defend his Wimbledon title.


An unvaccinated British golfer could be forced to skip overseas warm-up events for the Open or Women’s Open to avoid being banned from entering the latter competitions. That would mean you wouldn’t have to miss any of the other majors, although an unjabbed British golfer could be banned from practicing ahead of the August 4-7 Women’s Open if she also plays the Evian Championship July 21-24.

formula One

With most teams based in the UK, the government’s action would make life hell for any unvaccinated person traveling to races before returning to the UK. However, it would be a shock if someone working in a sport at the cutting edge of science and technology turned out to be anti-vaccination.


The new rules could prevent unvaccinated track and field athletes from competing in this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham if they travel to the World Championships in Eugene. The two events are days apart. Like footballers, without Jabbes, athletes would be in for a hot time, even if they normally return to the UK to train between competitions around the world.

To go biking

Ineos Grenadiers are based in the UK but all their drivers are fully vaccinated. An unofficial “no jab, no ride” policy appears to have been adopted by professional teams in a sport where many competitors spend their year in Spain and Italy.


Unvaccinated British boxers would be affected by the new rules, but fights are so rare that the crackdown only really comes into play when someone returns from a foreign training camp for a fight in this country.

Winter Olympics

Unvaccinated athletes have already been effectively barred from attending next month’s Beijing Games under rules that would force them into a 21-day quarantine. So anyone chosen to represent Great Britain would have been almost guaranteed to be double-stabbed. The sports Covid chaos brewing from the athletes who refuse to get vaccinated

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