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Vaccination policy for Australian Open tennis stars 'not yet settled', despite what leaked email says

ABC Grandstand logoABC Grandstand 24/10/2021

Victorian Major Events Minister Martin Pakula says the vaccination requirements for tennis players this summer are "not settled yet" despite a leaked email suggesting unvaccinated players would be allowed to enter.

The email, sent by the WTA player council to players, said unvaccinated players would be allowed to travel to Australia and do two weeks in quarantine before being allowed to play.

It also said fully vaccinated players would have no restrictions placed upon them and could move freely without being confined to a bubble.

The email asked players to "please keep this information confidential until the government makes an official announcement".

Men's world number one Novak Djokovic has previously said he did not know if he would be attending the Australian Open as he did not want to reveal his vaccination status.

Last week, federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said there would be no change in rules for tennis players, meaning those who were not vaccinated would not be allowed into Australia.

But Mr Pakula said the policy was still being determined.

“We’re still talking to the Commonwealth about whether the rule for international unvaccinated arrivals is either 14 days quarantine or they’re not coming into the country at all,” he said

“We don’t expect that to be settled for another couple of weeks.”

It had been reported that the vaccination rate for professional players was between 50 and 60 per cent, but Mr Pakula said he believed that rate was rising rapidly.

“I understand from my chat with Craig Tiley [from Tennis Australia] this morning that the vax rate for players is rising pretty quickly now and it's near enough to 80 per cent.”

Victoria's Health minister Martin Foley stressed that states can not control international visas and entry, but that he was working with the federal government to clarify policy.

“I’m confident that we will have the world’s best field here and the world’s best tournament early next year," Mr Foley said.

"We don’t control the borders, we don’t issue the visas. The Commonwealth does that.

"We’ll work in partnership with them and the Australian Open to make sure that we have a cracker of an Australian Open in 2022.”

Tennis Australia responded to the report with a statement on Monday afternoon. 

"We are working with the Victorian and federal governments on the conditions for players at Australian Open 2022 and look forward to having the details confirmed soon," TA said in the statement.

"Everyone has been buoyed by the easing of restrictions over the past week, along with the Premier's announcement yesterday that large crowds will be welcomed back to events next year.

"We are optimistic that we can hold the Australian Open as close to pre-pandemic conditions as possible."

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