Illawarra Hawks import Travis Trice has become the second NBL player to be released from his contract after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Trice signed a one-year deal with the Hawks in July but has opted not to travel to Australia for the upcoming season, which is scheduled to begin on November 18.
The American point-guard’s decision, announced by the Hawks on Tuesday, follows New Zealand’s call to terminate Tai Webster’s contract over his anti-vaccination stance.
Hawks president and co-owner Dorry Kordahi said it was a disappointing but understandable scenario.
“I know our members and fans were looking forward to watching Travis compete for our club, but sadly he will not be playing for the Illawarra Hawks this NBL season,” Kordahi said.
“We fully respect Travis’ views and freedom of choice in regards to the vaccine, but being unvaccinated was going to result in numerous challenges, especially as we are still firmly in the midst of the pandemic,.
“We wish Travis all the best but have immediately turned our attention to a replacement.
“We are currently exploring a number of viable options and we hope to have some good news in the coming weeks for our members and fans.”
The NBL will not mandate vaccinations for players or staff.
However, Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said this month the league “will continue to educate our people and will strongly recommend it (getting vaccinated)”.
Unvaccinated players will have limited ability to play basketball and travel freely within Australia under restrictions to be imposed by state governments.
“Sadly I won’t be suiting up in a Hawks uniform this season,” Trice said in a statement released by the club.
“The decision was made in the best interests of both parties and I wish the Hawks all the best for the upcoming season.”
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