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A number of the world's top tennis players could be forced to get the Covid-19 vaccine or skip the Australian Open grand slam after Victoria introduced the latest athlete vaccination requirement.
In a massive Covid-19 statement, Victoria included professional athletes in a vaccination mandate that will require about 1.25 million "authorised workers" to have two COVID-19 shots by the end of November.
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Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the health order on Friday as the southern state grapples with an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.
"Ultimately, if you want to come to work and you’re on the authorised list, you need to have your first jab by (Oct. 15),” Andrews told reporters as Victoria announced 1,143 new local COVID-19 cases on Friday.
While this will impact a number of codes, including AFL, football and rugby league, it is unknown whether this mandate will be implemented and inlude visiting international sporting stars.
However, if the mandate remains steadfast and includes visiting athletes in this category, it could cause huge ramifications for the Australian Open.
The requirements have some questioning whether some tennis stars who haven't had the vaccine will have to make a decision on whether to participate or not.
And the biggest name on the list, with his vaccination status unknown, is nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic.
Australian tennis coach Darren Cahill questioned whether Victoria's decision was the first domino to fall before all international athletes arriving would need to be fully vaccinated.
"Victorian government mandates that all professional athletes must be vaccinated"
I know this relates to Victorian sports athletes & teams but certainly the first sign where things may be heading for tennis players coming for the 2022 Australian Openhttps://t.co/7QQabzTdDp
— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) October 1, 2021
Djokovic, who has owned the Australian Open, may be forced have the jab he doesn't want in order to defend his title next year.
Since he has already had CV, it's too bad for him that natural immunity apparently doesn't satisfy the new rules. https://t.co/fgDuB80yCC
— Cynthia Tanner (@NorthwoodsLstnr) October 2, 2021
One hopes @atptour and @WTA - with way less than players 90% vaxxed - are watching @NBA situation. Say this now: hard to imagine Australia -with the world's tightest lockdown and 40K citizens stranded globally - letting unvaccinated players into the country for @AustralianOpen
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) September 30, 2021
Fans ponder Novak Djokovic's Australian Open participation
One of highest profile athlete that has come into question is ATP World No.1 Djokovic.
Djokovic's vaccination status remains unknown, but the World No.1 has never said he has received a jab.
“I feel like that should be always a personal decision, whether you want to get vaccinated or not. So I’m supportive of that,” Djokovic previously stated.
“So whether someone wants to get a vaccine or not, that’s completely up to them. I hope that it stays that way."
In April, 2020, Djokovic stated: "Personally I'm opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn't want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel."
While Djokovic is the highest-profile athlete in the world who has been vocal about vaccinations, the requirements could also affect cricketers.
The Ashes is set to start on December 8 and the famous Boxing Day Test set to go ahead.
This would require all English players, staff and families to be vaccinated.
A Victorian Government spokesperson told Yahoo Sport Australia that requirements for cricket players and Australian Open participants has yet to be determined.
“Vaccination requirements for international cricket players and Australian Open participants have not yet been settled," a spokesperson said.
“National Cabinet and the Commonwealth will set rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated international arrivals, consistent with the National Plan.”
“Other vaccination requirements for the Australian Open and other events will be considered by Public Health as required.”
“We continue to work with sporting bodies on arrangements for staging upcoming events.”
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