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Australian Open state says no to unvaccinated players


Unvaccinated players will not have special dispensation for the Australian Open, the top official in the state holding the Grand Slam said on Wednesday, which may exclude the reigning men’s champion Novak Djokovic. An email leaked earlier this week suggested that players not vaccinated against the coronavirus could participate as long as they completed a 14-day quarantine. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison then said that unvaccinated players would be allowed to enter the country if they received an exemption, for which the host state Victoria would have to apply on behalf of players.

But Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria’s state, quickly ruled it out.

“We include people who have not been vaccinated from pubs, cafes, restaurants and the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) and all sorts of other events,” he said.

“We are not going to apply for an exemption. Therefore, the issue is basically resolved.”

Australia’s federal government controls the country’s border and issues visas.

But during the pandemic, state governments operated quarantine facilities and imposed vaccine mandates, making it unclear who would get the final say on the Australian Open rules.

Nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic is one of many players who have refused to share their vaccination status, raising doubts about whether he will defend his title at Melbourne Park in January.

This year’s Australian Open was hit hard by the pandemic, with all players going through a two-week quarantine while crowds were limited and a five-day fast-paced exclusion called mid-opportunity.

In a leaked email from the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) on Monday, it was suggested that unvaccinated players would be allowed to participate in the 2022 event if they complete hotel quarantine and subject themselves to regular coronavirus testing.

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Players who are fully vaccinated are expected to be able to enter Australia without being quarantined or confined to bio-safe bubbles, the email added.

Tennis Australia said earlier this week it was working with both the Victorian and federal governments on the conditions for players, saying it was “optimistic that we can keep the Australian Open as close as possible to pre-pandemic conditions”.

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