Tennis players who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 may be allowed to travel to Melbourne and participate in the Australian Open grand slam tournament, according to a leaked email sent out by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) which seems to contradict earlier statements made by state and federal authorities who had warned that unvaccinated players may be barred from entering the country.
The WTA Players Council informed players on the women’s tour that unvaccinated players will be allowed to enter Melbourne for the Australian Open, but unlike their vaccinated counterparts, they will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine, tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg reported, citing an internal email.
The leaked email attempts to clarify what it calls “false and misleading information…about the conditions that players will be forced to endure at next year’s Australian Open.”
Apart from a two-week hard quarantine, unvaccinated players will also face regular testing, the email notes.
Fully vaccinated players on the other hand will be tested once after arrival and will have complete freedom of movement, with no bubble restrictions in place.
However, Rothenberg notes that the situation could change if the Victoria state or Australian government decides to make vaccines mandatory for entry into the country, something authorities have alluded to earlier.
Forbes has reached out to the WTA for a comment on the issue.
In a statement issued to the press on Monday, Tennis Australia said it was working with the Victorian and federal governments on the final playing conditions. “Everyone has been buoyed by the easing of restrictions over the past week, along with the premier’s announcement yesterday that large crowds will be welcomed back to events next year. We are optimistic that we can hold the Australian Open as close to pre-pandemic conditions as possible,” the tennis body said without specifically mentioning vaccinations.
Despite the WTA’s email, Australian authorities including immigration minister Alex Hawke have indicated that they might intervene to disallow unvaccinated players or those who refuse to reveal their vaccine status from entering the country. Last week, Daniel Andrews, premier of the Australian state of Victoria, told the press that he didn’t think any unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to enter Australia and said he is opposed to making any special arrangements for athletes. The world’s top-ranked male tennis player Novak Djokovic has declined to reveal his vaccination status publicly and said in an interview last week that he is unsure about defending his Australian Open crown next year, owing to the vaccine restrictions.
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