Western Hockey League will require players, staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19

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Vladislav Yeryomenko of the Calgary Hitmen, centre, carries the puck past Josh Paterson of the Saskatoon Blades during a 2018 WHL game. The hockey league says it will require players to be vaccinated this upcoming season. (Derek Leung/Getty Images - image credit)
Vladislav Yeryomenko of the Calgary Hitmen, centre, carries the puck past Josh Paterson of the Saskatoon Blades during a 2018 WHL game. The hockey league says it will require players to be vaccinated this upcoming season. (Derek Leung/Getty Images - image credit)

The Western Hockey League will require all players and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The WHL announced Monday that the policy, effective immediately, requires all roster players, hockey operations staff and other personnel to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before the start of the 2021-2022 season.

The season begins on Oct. 1.

"The health and safety of our players and staff continues to be the number one priority for the WHL," said WHL commissioner Ron Robison in an emailed statement. "The policy is designed to further protect our players and staff in the WHL from the potential risk of exposure to COVID-19.

"With travel restrictions currently in place with the Canada / U.S. border as well as the province of Manitoba, it is important all players and staff are fully vaccinated in order to be eligible to play a full season in the WHL," Robison added.

The Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League have adopted similar policies.

The WHL said it has also strongly recommended to member clubs that all eligible members of billet households where players are residing should also be fully vaccinated.

The league, which is based in Calgary, is home to 22 member clubs, 17 in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

The major junior league cancelled its playoffs last season due to COVID-19 concerns, stating that travel restrictions made it difficult to conduct a post-season.

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