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Noem asks athletic commission to rescind vaccine requirement

April 22, 2021 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Gov. Kristi Noem is asking the South Dakota Athletic Commission to immediately rescind its requirement that sports participants provide proof they are vaccinated for COVID-19.

In a letter to commission chairman Michael Kilmer, Noem wrote that requiring proof of a vaccination would eliminate South Dakotans’ ability to “make reasonable decisions on their own health while they participate in activities in our communities.”

The South Dakota Athletic Commission oversees mixed martial arts, boxing and kickboxing within the state.

“While I understand the commission’s intent to protect participants at events under its purview, the commission’s decision to pass this motion does not reflect South Dakota’s relationship to the public regarding COVID-19,” Noem wrote.

Noem said her request is under the authority of her latest executive order banning government-instituted vaccine passports, the Argus Leader reported.

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The so-called passports are documents that could be used to verify coronavirus immunization status and allow vaccinated people to more freely travel, shop and dine.

Noem’s executive order does not apply to private businesses, with the exception of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. It also prohibits local governments from requiring private businesses to show proof of vaccines in order to do business with local government.

South Dakota has resisted government mandates regarding the coronavirus and while Noem said she encourages vaccinations, she said the state will not require them.

The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.