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Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has made himself clear on his opposition to unvaccinated tennis players being allowed into the country for the Australian Open next year.
It remains unclear just what provisions, if any, will be made for unvaccinated overseas tennis players seeking to compete in the Australian Open.
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Many international stars are believed to have not yet taken the vaccine, with men's world No.1 Novak Djokovic the most well-known example.
After strong comments last week from a variety of Australian politicians, indicating players would most likely need to be vaccinated in order top enter the country, speculation was sent into overdrive on Monday after a supposedly leaked email suggested this would not be the case.
The email, coming from the women's organising body the WTA, suggested unvaccinated players would be allowed into Australia, but would be required to first quarantine, then spend the tournament in a bubble.
By contrast, fully vaccinated players would be free to move around the country as normal.
On Tuesday morning, Victorian state premier Daniel Andrews hosed down the speculation raised by the leaked message to players, suggesting it was overwhelmingly likely vaccination would be a requirement of entry to Australia.
In an interview with ABC Radio, Andrew said if the government expected spectators to be fully vaccinated, then it stood to reason that the players ought to be as well.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has hardened his stance against unvaccinated tennis players, declaring all sports stars should be double jabbed to attend the Australian Open. #9Today pic.twitter.com/bShAOeqy1J
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) October 25, 2021
“You try getting into the US … most of Europe, really, so many different parts of Asia if you haven’t been vaccinated,” Andrews said.
“Like, you’re just not getting a visa – why would that be different here?
“I don’t think it’s too much to say, if you want one of those visas and you want to come here, then you need to be double-vaxxed.
“All the people who are watching the tennis at the Australian Open, they’re going to be double-vaxxed, all the people that work there are going to be double-vaxxed.
"It stands to reason that if you want to get into the country to be part of that tournament, then you should be double-vaxxed as well.”
Leaked email prompts Australian Open vaccine speculation
A leaked email from the WTA to its Players' Council has revealed unvaccinated players must still endure 14 days' hard quarantine in a hotel.
The memo asked players to "please keep this information confidential until the government makes an official announcement".
Government leaders only last week insisted the world's tennis stars needed to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to take part in the Open, casting doubt on Novak Djokovic's participation at the Melbourne Park major.
Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal whether he has received a jab, having also previously expressed hope the vaccine would not become mandatory for players on the ATP circuit.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last Tuesday said unvaccinated sports stars would be unlikely to receive a visa, while federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Wednesday confirmed there was no prospect of travel rules being relaxed for incoming tennis players.
"Not at this time. Our health advice is that when we open the borders, everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double vaccinated," Hawke told ABC Radio.
But it appears the Victorian and federal governments have both completed an about face.
"We feel the need to reach out to you all to clear up false and misleading information that has recently been spread by other parties about the conditions that players will be forced to endure at next year's Australian Open," the email starts.
"We have been communicating regularly with Craig (Tiley) and the Tennis Australia team in recent months and they shared some good news with us on our Players' Council call last Friday so that you know the facts and are not confused by rumours that have been circulating.
"Tennis Australia had asked us to wait a few days as they were still working with the government on the details.
"Because Victoria's vaccination rate will hit 80 per cent at the end of the week and 90 per cent next month, it has been confirmed that conditions for the players at the Australian Open will improve significantly."
The email said fully-vaccinated players can arrive in Australia from December 1 and are not required to stay in quarantine or any training bubble as they did this year.
In addition to unvaccinated players needing to quarantine, they will be subjected to regular COVID-19 testing.
Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula on Monday morning maintained nothing was set in stone, a fact which Tennis Australia acknowledged.
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