UK could bar unvaccinated Premier League stars from playing matches

Culture Secretary plans to end isolation exemption for athletes

The UK is considering removing Covid-19 exemptions for unvaccinated sports stars, including Premier League footballers

Sports stars who refuse to have Covid-19 shots could be prevented from playing in the UK under plans being considered by the government.

Presently, sports stars who return to Britain from abroad are exempt from isolating for 10 days, enabling them to train or compete.

But Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries hopes to scrap the exemption for domestic players.

The latest figures released by the Premier League revealed only one in six players had received a vaccination.

It would mean that Premier League clubs playing in European competitions would be unable to select unvaccinated players in the days after their return.

The change would also affect rugby, golf and cycling competitions.

A government source revealed the news to The Telegraph newspaper.

“If you want to have special treatment you’ve got to do your bit to keep others healthy and safe. Getting vaccinated isn’t only about your health but others,” a source told the paper.

Australia has blocked tennis star Novak Djokovic from entering the country to defend his Australian Open title because he has not been immunised against Covid-19.

Court documents revealed on Saturday that the star had recently contracted the coronavirus.

“Thank you people from around the world for your continuous support,” he said on Instagram.

“I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated.”

Serbia's Novak Djokovic (L) holding the Norman Brookes Trophy as he poses with tournament director Craig Tiley after his victory in the men's singles final against Britain's Andy Murray on day 14 of the 2015 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.  AFP

Presently, unvaccinated people arriving into the UK have to self-isolate for 10 days and get a PCR test.

France and Italy announced last month that all professional athletes living there would have to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Throughout the pandemic we have put in place measures to allow international sport to continue, while at the same time protecting public health,” a spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.

“We have exemptions for domestic and international sportspeople to leave self-isolation for specified events, but only to train or to compete. They must self-isolate at all other times, and must follow strict protocols in the operation of these events.

“We are committed to international sport continuing and will review the exemptions regime to ensure it is operating effectively and fairly.”

Updated: January 8th 2022, 3:29 PM