The Victorian government will not ask for exemptions for unvaccinated players traveling from overseas to attend next year’s Australian Open, the state prime minister has said.
Daniel Andrews said refusing to consider exemptions for players like Novak Djokovic, who has repeatedly refused to disclose his vaccination status, was “the right thing to do,” as fans and people working in the tournament must be doubly stitched.
“I want to be very clear with every Victorian, my government will not be asking for an exemption for an unvaccinated player,” Andrews said.
“I’m not going to ask and demand that the people sitting in the stands, the people working on the event, be vaccinated while the players are not. We are not going to apply an exemption. Therefore, the problem is essentially solved.
Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had indicated that athletes who had not taken a Covid vaccine would still be allowed to enter the country for the season opening grand slam, provided they undertake two weeks of quarantine.
Morrison’s comments contradicted those made a week earlier by Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who said that “our health advice is that when we open the borders everyone who comes to Australia will have to be doubly vaccinated… it’s a universal application, not just for tennis players ”.
“The same rules should apply to everyone,” Morrison told Seven Network on Wednesday. “If I wasn’t doubly vaccinated when I returned to Glasgow, I would be in quarantine for two weeks. But if you are not vaccinated, you will need to quarantine yourself in Victoria. States will set the rules for quarantine. “
Victorian Minister of Health Martin Foley said the state’s public health team should “consider what the Prime Minister has said”, but Andrews aimed at the mixed message from the federal government.
“I fully agreed with Minister Hawke’s point of view, which I took as the federal government’s point of view and it appears that is not the case,” Andrews said.
“The federal government manages the border and as far as everything the federal government says about it is clear, because their position has risen to 180 [degrees] from what the immigration minister said, what at the time I agreed with.
“I don’t intend to control the borders, we don’t… We will organize the event but we will not ask for an exemption for unvaccinated players to come here. And that’s the only right thing to do. We have all accomplished incredible things.
Debate over player vaccination regulations at the Australian Open has swirled since Victoria mandated all professional athletes in the state to be passed.
Tennis Australia has been contacted for comment.
World number one Djokovic, the defending Australian Open champion, is reportedly looking to win a 10th title at Melbourne Park and the Serbian appeared optimistic about his chances of appearing when questioned last week.
“I think there will be a lot of restrictions like this year, but I doubt there are too many changes,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Serbian undertook 14 days of hotel quarantine before playing at the Open but, along with other players, pushed for relaxed rules for lone athletes in Melbourne hotels .