Unvaccinated tennis stars are unlikely to get visas to play in the Australian Open. This was a warning issued by a local official on Tuesday. This threw defending champion Novak Djokovic’s participation into serious doubt. Victoria state premier Dan Andrews said he was not expecting any exceptions from Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine rules for players. He said this about the players competing in January’s Grand Slam. “I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” Andrews said. “The virus doesn’t care what your tennis ranking is or how many Grand Slams you’ve won,” he added in a news conference. “And if they did get a visa they would probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks when no other players have to.”
World number one Djokovic has publicly voiced opposition to vaccines. He has even refused to say whether he is vaccinated against the coronavirus. “Things beings as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” Djokovic told the online edition of Serbian daily Blic. “I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry. People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person. Whatever you say ‘Yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it‘, they will take advantage.”
He has won three back-to-back Australian Opens in the past. This person hopes that he will be able to at least try to secure a record-breaking 21st major. It will take place in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital. This happened after he fell short at the US Open in September. Andrews also indicated that anyone hoping to attend Formula One’s Australian Grand Prix would also have to be vaccinated. “The Grand Prix is in April, I don’t think there is going to be crowded for the Grand Prix made up of people who have not been double-dosed. You need to be vaccinated to keep yourself safe and to keep others safe,” Andrews said. Tennis Australia, which organizes the Grand Slam, declined to comment.
Victoria, where the Grand Slam takes place in Melbourne, Australia has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes. However, the authorities have not clarified what the requirement will be for those coming from abroad. The federal government’s home affairs department was not able to provide immediate comment. The borders of Australia have been shut to non-residents through the pandemic. But, among all these, authorities have issued visas to athletes and sports staff for major events, including the last Australian Open in February. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would relax border controls for residents and their overseas-based family members from next month. He added that though this was done for residents, international tourists and other visa classes would have to wait longer.