There is still great confusion as to who will be eligible to compete at the first grand slam of next year, the Australian Open, with the National Government at odds with the Regional Government in respect of Covid restrictions.
If we don't apply for an exemption, then no exemption will be granted and then the whole issue is basically resolved. Daniel Andrews, Victorian Premier,
As far as the Victorian state government is concerned, no player will be allowed to compete at the AO unless they have been vaccinated which is the official line for all travellers entering the country, but the Government of Australia says the State could apply for an exemption to allow unvaccinated players to take part.
The country’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, basically confirmed last Wednesday, that those without jabs would be able to enter the country to play!
But the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, remains firm in his own stance declaring the state would not apply for an exemption!
“On behalf of every vaccinated Victorian who has done the right thing, my government will not be applying for an exemption for any unvaccinated player,” Andrews has stated with some finality.
“If we don’t apply for an exemption, then no exemption will be granted and then the whole issue is basically resolved.”
But then the WTA, in an attempt to clarify the situation, muddied the waters even further by circulating a letter to all their players telling them that it seemed likely those without vaccination would be allowed to play in Melbourne.
The letter stated that they thought the entry rules would “improve significantly” and no doubt, there are plenty of discussions still taking place in the hope that all players could eventually take part and be involved in next January’s tournament, including Novak Djokovic who stubbornly refuses to say whether he is vaccinated or not.
As things stand the world number one will not be able to chase his 21st grand slam crown and, as defending champion, improve on his tally of 9 AO titles unless he is prepared to undergo a fortnight’s quarantine prior to the tournament.
In contrast vaccinated players will be allowed full freedom of the city on arrival as Andrews reiterated that players must abide by the same rules under which Victorian citizens abide by.
“I’m not going to require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event, to be vaccinated while players aren’t,” he said logically.
While he didn’t cite Dominic Thiem as an example, the Austrian has been banned from spectating at the Vienna Open which is being played this week in the country’s capital. The 2020 US Open champion hasn’t played since the Mallorca Open last June having been side-lined by a wrist injury.
As he is still unvaccinated, he has been prohibited entry to the grounds by the organisers, despite being a former champion of the event.
But he will be competing in Melbourne because he aims to have his jabs in the next few weeks.
“I haven’t been vaccinated yet,” Thiem stated. “I want to wait for the Novavax vaccine because I heard from my doctor that it should be really good.”
Should it not be available in time, he added, he would use an alternative version.
The uncertainty which prevails over the rules has now led to the cancellation of the Kooyong Clssic, a warm-up event for Melbourne, with the Kooyong president Adam Cossar promising it would return in 2023.
“With the great deal of uncertainty over recent months about the arrangements that would be in place in January, it has not been possible to make the best plans to deliver the best and safest sporting (event),” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
In the meantime, everyone hopes that the confusion still surrounding entry into Australia, is resolved and sooner rather than later.