Tennis fans were left confused and angry on Wednesday when Scott Morrison and Daniel Andrews offered contradictory statements about whether or not unvaccinated players will be allowed to compete at the Australian Open.
The Prime Minister and Victorian Premier are at loggerheads about unvaccinated tennis stars playing at the year's first grand slam event in Melbourne in January.
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On Wednesday, Mr Morrison said unvaccinated players would be welcomed into the country provided they complete two weeks in quarantine upon arrival.
"We want major events in this country. A lot of jobs depends on it," he told the Nine Network.
"We want Australia to show to the world that we are open.
"If there is a special exemption that is warranted for an economic reason ... that can happen but you have to follow the health rules in that state.
"Two weeks quarantine for unvaccinated people, that is sensible."
But just hours later, Andrews emphatically ruled out seeking any exemptions for unjabbed players.
"What I want to make very clear is that the state of Victoria will not be applying for any exemptions for unvaccinated players," Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
"I am not going to require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event, to be vaccinated while players aren't.
"So we're not going to be applying for an exemption. Therefore the issue is basically resolved."
The premier said even if unvaccinated players were given an exemption to quarantine in another state, they would not be allowed to enter Melbourne Park.
As it currently stands, unvaccinated players will be allowed to enter the country but won't be allowed into Victoria to play the Australian Open.
The prime minister's comments that unvaccinated players will be free to contest the Open also flies in the face of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's assertion last week.
"I was perfectly supportive of Minister Hawke's view, which I took to be the view of the federal government and it appears that is not the case," Andrews said.
"The federal government has done a complete 180."
Fans were also left feeling confused on Wednesday, taking to social media to express their frustrations.
@ScottMorrisonMP not understanding that Australian workers need to be vaccinated to prepare the open, run the open, but "exemptions" for the "elite" are given is a awful look. Just pathetic.
One rule for the wealthy another for the masses. 💩🏠
— Anne Young (@smyrkyanne) October 26, 2021
Two separate issues.
1. Entry to Australia
2. VIC mandate to be vaccinated to attend a workplace (if they get into the country will VIC hold them to this standard like everyone else?)
Both sides dodging the question if they can play by blaming the other 🤷♀️
— Alyssa | Solo Luxe (@AlyssaSoloLuxe) October 26, 2021
Surely we are not allowing unvaccinated people into Australia? I’m vaxxed and support vaccinations but you can’t restrict Australians who are not vaxxed and at the same time allow un-vaxxed tennis players…!
— Vivienne (@VivSpendelove1) October 26, 2021
What is the point of being one of the "most vaccinated places on the planet" if we can't have international visitors who are unvaccinated?
Is there now an expectation that the rest of the world must get vaccinated? Cause that is a big ask and something that 100% wont happen
— John Polizzi (@ThePolizz) October 27, 2021
The Morrison Federal gov seems all too happy to indicate they'll allow cashed up unvaccinated tennis players in, whilst thousands of Australians have been stranded for 1.5years + overseas. The way money talks to this Fed gov is really appalling.
— Anth W. 🌏 (@anth0888) October 27, 2021
A call on unvaccinated players at the AO is required given it needs to apply to both international and domestic players. The same call will need to be made on the Cricket, Horse Racing, Grand Prix, AFL, NRL, A league etc where we have participants coming from interstate.
— jimbosteen (@jimbosteen1) October 27, 2021
Confusion remains around Australian Open vaccination saga
The political stand-off has been triggered by World No.1 and nine-times Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic repeatedly refusing to reveal if he is vaccinated against Covid-19, having last week flagged he was unsure whether he would 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.
But less than three months out from the scheduled January 17 start to the richest and biggest event on the annual Australian sporting calendar, it remains unclear how that rule will be applied to the Open and foreign travellers.
Hawke last week said "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".
But with the prime minister weighing in, it now appears likely unvaccinated players will be free to contest the Open under quarantine requirements.
"Same rules have to apply to everyone. If I was not double vaccinated when I came home from Glasgow, I would be doing two weeks of quarantine," Morrison told the Seven Network.
Victoria's Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar also entered the saga with some stern words on Wednesday.
"The Australian Open will be for vaccinated spectators and for vaccinated participants," he said.
"We only want vaccinated people at these major sporting events.
"We've got phenomenal experience and tradition here of running amazing sporting events and running them safely.
"We're not going to change that now and the options are there for people to participate - get yourselves vaccinated and get it done."
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