Unvaccinated tennis stars can travel to Australia for Open, says PM Scott Morrison

Prime minister Scott Morrison has indicated unvaccinated tennis players will be allowed into the country for the Australian Open, one week after immigration minister Alex Hawke declared that was not on the cards.

World No 1 Novak Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal whether he is vaccinated against Covid-19, having last week flagged he is unsure whether he will return to Melbourne in 2022.

Australia’s grand slam vaccination debate has been swirling since the Victorian government introduced a mandate for professional athletes to get the jab. It remains unclear how that rule will be applied to the Open and foreign travellers.

Hawke said a week ago that “our health advice is that when we open the borders, everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double vaccinated… that’s a universal application, not just to tennis players”.

It now appears likely that any unvaccinated players wishing to participate in the year-opening grand slam will be allowed to do so, provided they are willing to quarantine for a fortnight.

“Same rules have to apply to everyone. If I was not double vaccinated when I came home to Glasgow I would be doing two weeks of quarantine,” Morrison told the Seven Network. “But if you are not vaccinated you will have to quarantine in Victoria. The states will set the rules about the quarantine.”

Morrison’s comments surprised Victorian health minister Martin Foley, who said the state’s public health team would have to “consider what the prime minister said”.

“The Victorian government was working on the basis that the position of the immigration minister was the position of the government,” he told reporters outside parliament on Wednesday.

Victoria’s government will ultimately dictate the restrictions on any potential unvaccinated arrivals into Melbourne.

Djokovic and other players pushed for various quarantine exemptions earlier this year, when he proceeded to win a ninth Australian Open title. It remains unclear what leeway state governments will grant in 2022, if any, but Djokovic was notably upbeat last week.

“I believe there will be a lot of restrictions just like this year, but I doubt there will be too many changes,” he said.

Djokovic quarantined in South Australia earlier this year, but lobbied tennis authorities on behalf of players isolating in Melbourne hotels.


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