The Denver Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr has come out with an outlandish conspiracy theory, saying he believes Covid-19 is being used to control the population. He also said he has never had a vaccination.
Porter Jr made his comments as the NBA prepares to resume its season following a break enforced by the pandemic.
“Personally, I think that the coronavirus is being used obviously for a bigger agenda,” Porter said during an Snapchat Q+A. “It’s being used for population control in just terms of being able to control the masses of people.
“Because of this virus, the whole world is being controlled. You’re required to wear masks, and who knows what’ll happen when this vaccine comes out. You might have to have the vaccine in order to travel. That’d be crazy.”
Most scientists agree that masks help slow the spread of a virus that has killed nearly 150,000 people in the US and more than 650,000 worldwide. A Covid-19 vaccine, if one ever becomes available, is seen as the best way of ending, or at least controlling, the pandemic.
Porter did, however, acknowledge that the virus is dangerous.
“All you can do is sit back and watch what’s going on, don’t get too emotionally involved,” he said. “It is a serious thing, it’s a real thing, but yes, it’s being overblown.”
Porter also claimed – probably falsely – that he had never had a vaccination. “I’ve never been vaccinated in my life. I’ve never had any shots or anything like that,” he said.
The 22-year-old played college basketball at Missouri where all students must “comply with the two-dose MMR Immunization Policy.” The vast majority of children in the US are given vaccines, and Porter’s parents would have had to have made a conscious decision not to vaccinate him as an infant.
Porter is not the first athlete to repeat conspiracy theories or misleading information since the start of the lockdown.
“Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” the world No 1 male tennis player, Novak Djokovic, said in a live Facebook chat in April. “But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision.”
Djokovic later contracted Covid-19 after organising an unsanctioned charity tournament, which was criticised for flouting safety protocols. Grigor Dimitrov also caught the virus while competing at the tournament and said this week he is still feeling the effects.
“[It’s’] still not easy to recover. The virus was hard on me. I stayed home for about a month,” Dimitrov said. “I was not breathing well, I was not feeling well; tired. [I had] all the symptoms: no taste, no smell, everything you could think of. So it was no fun.”
The NBA restarts its season on Thursday, with players in a isolation bubble at Disney World in Florida. The league hopes regular testing and strict protocols will stop outbreaks of the disease among players and staff.