Ahead of the $1 million Stockholm LAN on April 29, Cloud9 Apex Legends player Paris “StayNaughty” Gouzoulis expressed anti-vax sentiments in a streamed conversation about the coronavirus policies of the upcoming tournament. He was adamant about not getting a COVID-19 vaccine despite the international travel to the event and group gatherings there and insisted he wouldn’t be required to do so.
“I’m not getting it,” Naughty told Mac “Albralelie” Beckwith, one of his teammates. “They’re not gonna force it, I promise.”
Albralelie disagreed. “You literally won’t be able to get in,” he replied.
But Naughty wasn’t open to debating the issue. “Shut up… I know what I’m doing,” Naughty said. “They can’t enforce it a week and a half before and cuck people out of going to LAN, that will start a fucking riot… I’m not getting the Johnson and Johnson. I’m not putting the fucking disease in my body.”
Dot Esports reached out to Naughty and Jamison “PVP” Moore, C9’s Apex coach, for more information but received no response. Dot Esports also contacted an EA spokesperson yesterday and today for information about coronavirus safety protocols at the LAN, including the event’s vaccine policy. They were unable to provide any information.
As of April 1, Sweden dropped all its coronavirus-related entry requirements for foreign nationals, clearing the way for unvaccinated people without recent COVID tests to freely travel there. Any vaccination or testing requirements for the Stockholm LAN would have to come directly from EA or the tournament venue itself.
In the blog post announcing the return of pro Apex to the LAN format after more than two years, the ALGS administration wrote that safety was the top priority for the tournament and that they would follow CDC and WHO guidance. The event is closed to the public in an effort to limit the risk of infection.
Naughty claimed on broadcast that several other players who qualified for the Stockholm LAN would also not be able to compete if EA enforced a vaccine requirement. “The entire G2 roster… I’m sure we’re not the only four,” he said. “TL won’t be able to compete, a lot of people.”
Other in-person esports events have taken tentative steps toward normalcy, instituting strict testing protocols and other precautions to ensure a high degree of safety for players, staff, and any spectators. But even strong safety protocols haven’t been enough to keep players from getting infected: The disease has continued to disrupt the VALORANT Champions Tour.
An EA spokesperson said they’d get back to Dot Esports with more information about the coronavirus protocols in place for the LAN. We’ll update this article if they do.
Update April 20 2:45pm CT: EA provided an outline of its coronavirus policy for the event: “Although highly encouraged, COVID-19 vaccination is not required for players competing in the Apex Legends Split 2 Playoffs in Stockholm, Sweden in alignment with local country group gathering guidelines. That said, daily COVID-19 testing of all attendees onsite is mandatory with a negative result required for entering the venue. If a competitor tests positive for COVID-19, they will not be allowed to compete.”