Australian Open vaccination saga continues as lawmakers have different views

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We’ve been going back and forth with the news about COVID-19 vaccination requirements for the 2022 Australian Open. First it was said that only double jabbed players would get the visa to enter the country, then the word was out that unvaccinated players would most probably be allowed to compete after a 14-day hard quarantine, and now the latest news is that government officials in Australia are not on the same page regarding this issue.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a liberal approach, as he indicated that unvaccinated WTA and ATP players would be allowed to enter Australia, provided they spend two weeks in strict hotel isolation.

Morrison believes that Australia needs to be flexible if they want to organize big international events:

We’re going to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world … one of the lowest fatality rates from COVID in the world and the strongest economy coming through COVID. We want major events in this country. We want Australia to show to the world that we’re open, we’re getting on with it.

However, Victoria state’s Premier Daniel Andrews insists that if the Australian Open staff and visitors have to be fully vaccinated, then players should conform to the same rules:

What I want to make very clear is that the state of Victoria will not be applying for any exemptions for unvaccinated players … Therefore the issue is basically resolved. I am not going to ask and require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event to be vaccinated while players aren’t.

Both the women’s and men’s tours are letting players decide whether they want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, although they are strongly advising them to do so. (source: AP News)

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  1. The thing is that the audience and ground staff will all have to be vaccinated, and the Victorian government doesn’t see why there should be any exception for players. There appears to be almost universal support for Daniel Andrews’ position. I agree with it too. If the players want to pass up the huge money on offer, and the chance to have a lovely holiday in Australia in the summer where they are free do do what they like, then that’s a chance for someone else who does want to come.

  2. CLT, what confuses me is that nobody mentions players who have had COVID recently, such as Aryna Sabalenka. Showing that you have had COVID in the last 6 months is as valid as vaccination in most countries that I know. It is not necessary to be vaccinated if you have natural immunity and it is not even advised to get vaccinated until a few months after you have had COVID.

  3. There is debate about how much immunity is given by having COVID. The things I have read recently suggest that it is less than the immunity given by vaccination. Yes they say you aren’t supposed to be vaccinated in the 6 months after having it. So there could be a grey area where some players like Aryna are at least partly immune and not able to be vaccinated, and it could be argued that they should be allowed to play, possibly with some kind of quarantine. But I agree with the Victorian government that anyone who is eligible must be vaccinated in order to play. And pretty much everyone in Australia agrees with that. There has been some nonsense in the US about our “draconian” approach to COVID, but we have a MUCH lower death rate per head of population than practically anywhere else in the world, and we also now have high vaccination rates. Don’t know about you, but I’d rather hundreds of thousands of people didn’t die, like they have in the US, even if that means a bit of inconvenience.

  4. CLT, the vaccination rate among tennis players is relatively high, but still not nearly 100%. To be fully vaccinated, you need a few months. So, those who have not already started the vaccination process are out of the picture, as I understand. The WTA and the ATP, as well as Australia, understand that having the Australian Open with just over half of top players would negatively affect the popularity of the tournament and would thus be a huge revenue loss. I hope they will find some solution that will equally satisfy all parties.

  5. It’s only three weeks in between Pfizer shots not two months. They have plenty of time for that before January. Also, I think you’ll find that everyone in Melbourne is so happy to get out and about after months of lockdown that the crowds will be pretty big even without Djokovic and his fellow recalcitrants. But I agree there is an issue about people who have had COVID recently and may not be able to have vaccination yet.


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