Premier responds to Scott Morrison's Aus Open vaccine bombshell

·Sports Editor
·6-min read
Scott Morrison and Daniel Andrews, pictured here speaking to the media.
Scott Morrison has contradicted Daniel Andrews' comments about unvaccinated tennis players. Image: Getty

Daniel Andrews has responded after Scott Morrison threw a huge curveball in the debate around unvaccinated tennis stars playing the Australian Open, indicating they will be allowed into the country after all.

The participation of many top players including World No.1 Novak Djokovic is in serious doubt after Victoria introduced a vaccine mandate for all professional athletes.

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Victorian Premier Andrews and Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke have previously declared that unvaccinated athletes won't be able to get a visa to enter the country.

However the Prime Minister contradicted that stance on Wednesday when he said unvaccinated tennis players will be allowed into the country as long as they quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

"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," Mr Morrison told Nine's Today Show.

He said while there were clear rules requiring Victorians to be vaccinated to take part in economic activity, "there needs to be a little bit of flexibility so we can live with the virus".

"We want major events in this country, a lot of jobs depends on it," Mr Morrison said.

"We want Australia to show to the world that we are open."

His comments contradict those made by Immigration Minister Hawke, who last week said athletes would need to be double-vaccinated to enter the country.

Responding to Mr Morrison's comments, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley 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.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here after winning the 2021 Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic's participation at the Australian Open is in serious doubt. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Daniel Andrews says no exemptions for unvaccinated players

Responding to the Prime Minister's comments later on Wednesday, Mr Andrews said Victoria won't seek exemptions for unvaccinated players to enter the state from overseas.

"What I want to make very clear is that the state of Victoria will not be applying for any exemptions for unvaccinated players," he told reporters.

"We are locking people who are unvaccinated out of pubs, cafes, restaurants, and the MCG, all sorts of other events.

"The only fair thing to do is to be very clear with every Victorian - my government will not be applying for an exemption for any unvaccinated players."

Victoria has a cap on unvaccinated people arriving in the state and Mr Andrews said he won't be asking the federal government for exemptions for the Open.

Earlier this week, a leaked email from the WTA to its players' council indicated that unvaccinated players would be allowed into Australia for the season-opening grand slam.

"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 maintained nothing was set in stone, a fact which Tennis Australia acknowledged.

"We are working with the Victorian and federal governments on the conditions for players at Australian Open 2022 and look forward to having the details confirmed soon," TA said in a statement.

"Everyone has been buoyed by the easing of restrictions over the past week, along with the premiers 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."

Many Australians were outraged to learn that unvaccinated players might still be allowed into the country, with manly labelling it "double standards".

with AAP

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