Tennis players who have yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be allowed to participate in the Australian Open despite some initial optimism. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced Wednesday his government will not apply for unvaccinated players’ travel permits, shortly after Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested those permits — along with two-week quarantines for each unvaccinated athlete — would allow them to compete.
Victoria is slated to host the Australian Open in Melbourne in January.
“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 said. “If we don’t apply for an exemption, then no exemption will be granted and then the whole issue is basically resolved.”
Around 30% of the top-100 men’s and women’s tennis players remain unvaccinated, according to CNN, potentially lightening the Australian Open field. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic — who’s declined to share his vaccination status — said last week “things being as they are” in Victoria may force him to skip the tournament. An Australian Open win would give Djokovic a record 21st men’s grand slam singles title.
Andrews says keeping unvaccinated players out of the Australian Open ensures no double standard arises. Victorian professional athletes are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as all coaches, officials, media, staff and fans.
“I’m not going to require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event, to be vaccinated while players aren’t,” Andrews said.
Australia, and particularly Victoria, have taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously since the onset of the pandemic. The Australian borders have been shut for 18 months aside from those with travel exemptions, and Victoria locked down its capital city of Melbourne six times. Unvaccinated Australians are still barred from pubs, restaurants, sporting events and more.
The Australian Open is scheduled to begin on Jan. 18.