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Matisse Thybulle is ineligible to play in Toronto. What does it mean?

Matisse Thybulle is listed as ineligible to play in the Sixers game tomorrow night in Toronto. What does that mean? Is it because he's unvaccinated? Would he be eligible for the playoffs?

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

With Canada's requirements that travelers into the country, even performers, needed to be vaccinated, the injury report for tomorrow's game has been a highly anticipated one ever since Tim Bontemps of ESPN reported that the Sixers declined to say whether all their players were vaccinated.

We got our answer this afternoon when Matisse Thybulle was listed as "ineligible to play" for tomorrow's game against the Raptors.


Injury report issued on April 6th, 2022. Source: nba.com

I've seen a lot of confusion as to how Thybulle was able to play in Toronto and in Brooklyn earlier this season, and how he was able to compete in the Tokyo Olympics last summer, if he was unvaccinated. I'll attempt to explain it all in a brief question and answer format below.

But Thybulle played in Toronto and Brooklyn earlier this year? Isn't that proof that he's vaccinated?

Thybulle played in Toronto on December 28th. Canada's new border vaccination requirement went into effect on January 15th. Before that athletes were exempt from having to meet the entry requirements.

New York's vaccination requirement for athletes and performers to be vaccinated only applied to members of the Knicks and Nets. It did not apply to visiting teams.

This is the first game Thybulle would have been required to be vaccinated.

But didn't Thybulle play in the Olympics last summer? Didn't that require vaccination?

He did compete in the Olympics, but the IOC did not require vaccination for the 2021 Tokyo games.

Directly from the IOC Playbook:

Please note: While we encourage everyone coming to
Tokyo to get vaccinated if this is possible in line with the
national immunisation guidelines of your country, you will
not be required to have received a vaccine in order to
participate in the Games.

But didn't the Australian Olympic Committee require their athletes to be vaccinated?

They did not require all of their athletes to be vaccinated. They required their Paralympic athletes to be vaccinated, but not their full Olympic squad.

They gave priority status to their Olympians to be able to get vaccinations, but it was not a requirement to attend.

From the Reuters report linked above.

The Australian Olympic Committee has followed the International Olympic Committee’s lead in making vaccination voluntary for able-bodied athletes going to the July 23-Aug. 8 Tokyo Olympics.

They also required athletes to quarantine in Sydney for 14 days after returning to Australia, and then there was an additional 14 day quarantine requirement for athletes who returned to South Australia. There were reports that contained an AOC statement that this quarantine period was excessive since all of those athletes were vaccinated. But the context there was that all of the 16 South Australian athletes who were subjected to a 28-day quarantine were vaccinated, not that all of Australia's athletes were vaccinated.

Is it possible that Thybulle just hasn't been boosted?

No. Canada's border requirement is that a traveler has:

  • Received at least 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine accepted for travel, a mix of 2 accepted vaccines (or at least 1 dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine)
  • Received your second dose at least 14 calendar days before you enter Canada
  • Have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19

It does not require a traveler to be boosted.

But weren't there reports that Thybulle was vaccinated?

Yes.

In fact, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported just a week ago that Thybulle, along with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris, were all vaccinated. You can see the archived report here, with a screenshot of the relevant section below.


"Uh oh, Canada: Vax issues could hinder Sixers in a playoff series vs. Toronto" – Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived on April 2nd, 2022, 9:01 am.

That article was updated today after news broke that Thybulle would be ineligible to travel. It now says that "the belief was all of those players were vaccinated."


"Uh oh, Canada: Vax issues could hinder Sixers in a playoff series vs. Toronto" – Philadelphia Inquirer. As of April 6th, 2022 8:43 pm.

This is important because all of the previous reports of Thybulle's vaccination status, whether in March following the ESPN report or last November when Thybulle missed time in health and safety protocols, can be traced back to the Philadelphia Inquirer. With the Inquirer now retracting their previous reporting, those reports can't be used as evidence that Thybulle is fully vaccinated, and the prior aggregation of those reports just makes the situation more confusing.  

One scenario that could explain some of the discrepancy here is that Thybulle could have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine and didn't follow through with the second dose. To be clear, I have received no information to suggest that is the case, it is just a hypothetically possible explanation that could bridge some of the gap between the prior reporting and where we stand today. Even so, Thybulle would not be allowed to play in Toronto until 14 days after receiving the second dose.

Can Thybulle play if the Sixers and Raptors meet in the first round?

If the season ended today, the Sixers would be the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and Toronto fifth, meaning the two teams would be slotted to meet up in the first round of the playoffs.

The first round is set to begin on April 16th or April 17th, which would mean Game 3 (the first time the series would shift to Toronto) would be right around the 22nd or 23rd. If Thybulle received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine today, he would have to wait 14 days before being allowed to enter Canada, per Canada's policy.

So he could, theoretically, be cleared before Game 3, but he would have to receive the shot as soon as possible. As of now, I am told that nothing has happened that would change his future eligibility.

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