How sport has been gripped by chaos after failing to control vaccine issue


But a number of British sportsmen and women could face similar issues in the coming weeks and months as European countries tighten their borders to combat the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

Football and rugby are likely to be the most affected sports, with the knockout stages of the Champions League and Europa League starting next month and rugby’s European Champions Cup starting up again next weekend.

Liverpool have been drawn against Inter Milan and Chelsea against Lille in the last 16 of the Champions League, while Rangers travel to Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League round of 32.

All three fixtures could pose a problem for unvaccinated players, although Liverpool are thought to have 100 per cent of their players vaccinated.

Athletes travelling to Italy currently have to show proof of one jab to enter the country or spend five days in quarantine. In France the regulations are even tighter, with French athletes required to be double-jabbed from Jan 15.

The German government is considering imposing the same restrictions on athletes from next month after a national outcry over unvaccinated Bundesliga players such as Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry, both of whom were docked wages by Bayern Munich last autumn after they admitted to being unvaccinated. Kimmich and Gnabry were in a tiny minority of players, with the Bundesliga reporting a 94 per cent vaccination take-up last month. The Premier League, by contrast, admitted last month that 16 per cent of its players – nearly 100 individuals – were yet to have their first jab.

In rugby’s Premiership, the vaccination take-up is a lot higher, with just four per cent – around 20 players – remaining unvaccinated according to Premiership Rugby.

One of the most high profile is thought to be Exeter’s England international Henry Slade, who told Telegraph Sport in an interview last year that he did “not fancy the vaccine at all” as he did not feel he could trust it due to his diabetes and having had adverse reactions to past vaccinations.

Exeter declined to comment on Thursday, but with the club travelling to Montpellier later this month for a Champions Cup tie, and with England due to travel to Paris for the final round of Six Nations fixtures in March, Slade could face travel issues should his stance have remained unchanged. French authorities have reportedly imposed strict bubble protocols on unvaccinated athletes from overseas, which involves limits on their movements between hotels, shuttle buses and stadiums, with the possibility of extending the mandatory vaccination requirement for all French athletes to those from abroad if the omicron wave continues to ravage the nation.


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