Tennis

No dispensation for unvaccinated athletes, says Victoria Premier

Australia's Victoria state will not do special deals with unvaccinated athletes to allow them to compete at major events, an official said yesterday, putting Novak Djokovic's Australian Open title defence and bid for the Grand Slam record in doubt.

World No. 1 Djokovic, level on 20 Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, declined to reveal his vaccination status again this week. He said he was unsure if he would defend his Australian Open crown as authorities work out Covid-19 restrictions for the tournament.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said he opposed special arrangements to let unvaccinated athletes compete in the state, which is scheduled to host the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in January.

"On the question of vaccination, no," he told a media briefing. "(The virus) doesn't care what your tennis ranking is, or how many Grand Slams you've won. It's completely irrelevant.

"You need to be vaccinated to keep yourself safe and to keep others safe."

Tennis Australia, which organises the Grand Slam, declined to comment.

LOCKDOWN

Victoria, which is due to exit a near three-month lockdown this week, recently included professional athletes in a vaccine mandate covering millions of "authorised workers", without clarifying whether it applied to athletes from overseas or other Australian states.

Andrews suggested the mandate covered international athletes, too.

He said Victoria's stance could be a "moot point", given the federal government might not issue visas to unvaccinated athletes.

"I don't think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country and, if they did get a visa, they'd probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks," he added.

"I don't think that the person you indicated (Djokovic) or any other tennis player, let's not personalise it... or golfer or Formula One driver will even get a visa to get here." - REUTERS

Tennis