No unvaccinated Australian Open player says Victoria Prime Minister
MELBOURNE, October 27 (Reuters) – Victoria Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has said his government will not apply for a travel permit to allow unvaccinated tennis players to compete in the Australian Open in the state after Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated they would be allowed to enter the country.
Morrison said earlier on Wednesday that unvaccinated players would be free to participate in the Grand Slam after suffering a two-week COVID-19 quarantine on condition that Victoria, which hosts the tournament in Melbourne, applied for permits for them.
Andrews said his state would not make such requests.
“On behalf of every vaccinated Victorian who did the right thing, my government will not ask for an exemption for an unvaccinated player,” he told reporters.
“If we don’t ask for an exemption then no exemption will be granted and then the whole problem is fundamentally solved.”
Australia’s borders have effectively been closed for 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although authorities approve travel exemptions for special cases.
Victoria has been the hardest-hit state in Australia, with its capital Melbourne locked down six times. The sixth lockdown ended on Friday, but only for fully vaccinated adults.
Unvaccinated adults remain banned from pubs, restaurants, sporting events and other sectors of the economy, and could be excluded until 2022.
Victoria’s position is a blow to the organizers of Grand Slam Tennis Australia, who want a strong field for the January tournament.
Some top players, including defending champion Novak Djokovic, have refused to disclose their vaccination status. The Serbian world number one said last week that he might miss out on the tournament, “things being what they are.” Read more
Morrison previously told the Seven Network that unvaccinated players should be quarantined for two weeks.
“All the same rules should apply to everyone,” he said.
“Whether you are a Grand Slam winner, a Prime Minister or a business traveler, a student or whatever. Same rules.”
Morrison’s comments contradicted those of his Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who said last week that tennis players and other athletes would need to be double vaccinated to enter the country.
Victoria’s professional athletes are subject to a vaccination mandate, which also covers coaches, officials, media and other personnel involved in elite competitions.
Andrews said tennis players should be held to the same level as everyone else at the event.
“I’m not going to demand that the people sitting in the grandstand, the people working at the event, be vaccinated when the players are not,” he said.
Currently, around 70% of the top 100 male and female tennis players are vaccinated.
If Djokovic plays at Melbourne Park, he will be the favorite to win a record-breaking 21st men’s Grand Slam singles title – knocking him out of a tie with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.
Additional reports from Renju Jose and Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Chris Reese, Ken Ferris, Peter Rutherford
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