Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said that unvaccinated players would be free to compete at the tournament after undergoing a two week COVID-19 quarantine.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has said his government will not apply for travel permits to allow unvaccinated tennis players to compete at the Australian Open in the state. Earlier, on Wednesday Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said that unvaccinated players would be free to compete at the tournament after undergoing a two week COVID-19 quarantine period provided government of Victoria, Melbourne which hosts the Grand Slam permits them.
“On behalf of every vaccinated Victorian who has done the right thing, my government will not be applying for an exemption for any unvaccinated player,” Andrews told reporters.
“If we don’t apply for an exemption, then no exemption will be granted and then the whole issue is basically resolved.”
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Australia’s borders have been closed for the last 18 months and the authorities allow travel exemptions only for special cases. Meanwhile Victoria has been one of the hardest hit places in Australia with its sixth locked ending on Friday, only for fully vaccinated adults. Unvaccinated adults remain banned from pubs, restaurants, sporting events and other parts of the economy.
Victoria’s stand is a blow for the Australian Open organisers as they want a strong field for the tournament in January. Some top players, including defending champion Novak Djokovic, have declined to disclose their vaccination status. The 20-time Grand Slam champion said last week that he might not play at the competition. The world No 1 is the favourite to win the tournament at Melbourne Park, which would be a record 21st title and move him above Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Although Morrison had earlier told Seven Network that unvaccinated players can compete after undergoing quarantine, his immigration minister Alex Hawk said last week that tennis players and athletes need to be double vaccinated before entering the country.
Andrews said tennis players should be held to the same standard as everyone else at the event.
“I’m not going to require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event, to be vaccinated while players aren’t,” he said.
Currently, around 70 per cent of the top 100 men and women tennis players are vaccinated.