Travis Trice becomes latest NBL player released for refusing COVID-19 vaccine

© Provided by ABC NEWS The Illawarra Hawks have released Travis Trice from his contract after the American refused to get a COVID-19 vaccination.  (Supplied: Instagram)

The Illawarra Hawks have released import Travis Trice after he become the latest NBL player to refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The 28-year-old American signed for the Hawks in July having previously played in the NBL for the Brisbane Bullets and the Cairns Taipans.

His one-year deal was scrapped after he refused to get vaccinated against coronavirus before travelling to Australia.

“It is just the nature of the beast at the moment,” Hawks co-owner Dorry Kordahi said.

“He has decided not to be vaccinated and we respect Travis’ decision.

“These are the challenges we are going to face in this current climate around the world.

“We have mutually agreed to release him from his contract, and we wish him all the best with the position he takes.”

Trice, who last played with Turkish side Galatasaray, said he was disappointed with the outcome but agreed with the decision.

“Sadly, I won’t be suiting up in a Hawks uniform this season,” he said in a statement.

“The decision was made in the best interests of both parties and I wish the Hawks all the best for the upcoming season.”

The announcement comes a day after NZ Breakers’ star Tai Webster had his two-year deal torn up for also refusing to get vaccinated.

The 26-year-old’s older brother Corey Webster, who is also a vocal critic of COVID vaccinations, also parted ways with the Breakers days before posting an anti-vaccine message on social media.

Mr Kordahi said travel restrictions had made it almost impossible to bring unvaccinated imports into Australia.

He said with the 2021/22 NBL season scheduled to begin in less than two months, the vaccination status of player had become a major sticking point for clubs.

“It is going to be a sticking point for many clubs and for many teams around the country.

“It would not surprise me if more players don’t pull out of contracts.”

The NBL has refused to introduce a vaccine mandate for players and staff but suggested that those who refuse to get vaccinated could be subject to travel restrictions as the states begin to open up.

“Individuals that decide not to get vaccinated could be subjected to different rules depending on various government protocols and restrictions,” NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said.

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