Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Seven News on Wednesday that unvaccinated tennis players can still enter Australia for the Australian Open in January. The requirement is that they be quarantined for two weeks.
Morrison contrasted his Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who said last week that tennis players and other athletes must be fully vaccinated to enter the country. “A special exception may be allowed on economic grounds,” Morrison said. “We want high-profile events in this country, a lot of jobs depend on that. We want to show the world that Australia is open.”
The Prime Minister’s statement is good news for the Australian Open, which wants world number one Novak Djokovic to participate in the tournament in Melbourne. The status of Djokovic’s vaccination and some of the other top players is unclear. Currently, about 70 percent of the top 100 players, both men and women, are fully vaccinated.
The state of Victoria, where the tournament will take place, will almost certainly enforce quarantine regulations down to the last detail. Victoria Prime Minister Daniel Andrews is strongly against accepting unvaccinated people. He said on Tuesday that his state would “manage the risks” if the federal government decided to allow it.
Professional athletes are typically subject to the vaccination requirements in Victoria, as are coaches, officials, the media and other individuals involved in sporting events. This means that the best tennis players will soon be the only unvaccinated group at the Australian Open, while the ball boys and girls, fans and referees will need a vaccination certificate.
Djokovic said last week that he may not play in the tournament as long as the rules “are the same”. Now that Prime Minister Morrison has relaxed the rules, the Serbian star’s participation is suddenly more likely. Tennis Australia has already committed to quarantining unvaccinated players in luxury accommodations in Adelaide.
If Djokovic decides to participate in the Australian Open, he will be able to win his 21st Grand Slam title. With this, he will leave Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – both good for 20 titles – behind him.
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