No vaccination, no entry in Australian open
One of the four grand slams played each year in the world of long tennis, Australian Open has become the first tournament in the world to mandatorily ask for vaccination proof against COVID-19 as a criteria to be allowed in the games.
The announcement was made by Australian Open chief Craig Tiley on Saturday that everyone who attends the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2022 will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, including all the players, support staff and the spectators.
The tournament is scheduled for Jan. 17-30, 2022. The Victorian state government had earlier said only vaccinated persons would be allowed into the site for the tournament, and Tiley reiterated that on Saturday.
“Everyone on site, the fans, all the staff, the players, will need to be vaccinated,” Tiley said at the tournament’s official launch.
Around 80% of players are vaccinated, according to Tiley.
While most players are vaccinated against COVID-19, the status of the star player of long tennis and former winner Novak Djokovic is still unknown.
The player has said in the past that it’s a personal information which he does not wish to make public.
While stating the same Tiley said “There’s been a lot of speculation about Novak’s position, he’s said it’s a private matter.”
“We would love to see Novak here, but he knows he needs to be vaccinated in order to play. He’s always said that the Australian Open is the event that puts the wind in his sails.” Added Tiley.
Novak Djokovic earlier had said that he will let everyone know of his status once the health advisory is issued by Tennis Australia for Australian Open.
While the playing status of Novak is yet unknown, his counterparts have given a definitive answer to the question.
The Spaniard Rafael Nadal will be playing at Melbourne Park in January, but Federer has recused himself from the games on account of recovering from a knee surgery. Both the players are fully vaccinated.
Tiley has also mentioned that the vaccination rate amongst players has risen from 50% to 80% in 6 weeks’ time.
Djokovic shares the record of 20 men’s grand slam singles titles with Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer. All the three players would be looking forward to being the 1st male player to have won 21 titles in their career.
Tiley said he had spoken this week with seven-time champion Serena Williams, who confirmed she will play.
He said he’d been “on the phone” with Serena Williams in the past few days and Williams, who has 23 Grand Slam singles titles and needs one more to tie Margaret Court’s all-time record, is training and plans to play.
Serena Williams will be up against Top-ranked Ash Barty of Australia who will make another attempt to win her home major, and defending champion Naomi Osaka has also confirmed she’ll play, Tiley said.
No way out for unvaccinated people
Earlier, a hope was visible for the unvaccinated players as Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, had opened a window for unvaccinated players when he said that they would be allowed into the country if they served 14 days quarantine and Victoria applied for an exemption.
However, Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, quickly made it clear that no exemptions would be sought for unvaccinated players.
The Australian government has allowed for a full capacity of spectators in the stadium. In 2021, the spectators were banned for 5 days on account of an emergency lockdown in the province and a limited seating was allowed for the other days.
Victorian Province is the worst hit region of Australia due to COVID-19 pandemic with more than 50% of the total deaths being reported from this region alone.