Novak Djokovic received a boost on Monday when a leaked WTA email indicated that unvaccinated players would be allowed to compete at next year’s Australian Open.
If proven true, this would leave the door open for the world number one to defend his title at Melbourne Park in January.
There had been doubt over Djokovic’s participation as it was believed that only players vaccinated against Covid-19 would be allowed entry into Melbourne. The Serb has refused to reveal whether he will be vaccinated.
The email to players from the WTA women’s governing body was leaked to New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg, who posted it on Twitter, and contradicts officials’ earlier statements implying unvaccinated players would not be granted visas.
The email said that players fully inoculated against Covid-19 would not have to quarantine or remain in bio-secure bubbles, enjoying “complete freedom of movement”.
Unvaccinated players can come to Australia but would have to undergo two weeks’ mandatory hotel quarantine and submit to regular testing, it stated.
“We feel the need to reach out to you all to clear up false and misleading information that has recently been spread by other parties about the conditions the players will be forced to endure at next year’s Australian Open,” the email read.
“Because Victoria’s vaccination rate will hit 80 percent at the end of the week and 90 percent next month, it has been confirmed that conditions for players at the Australian Open will improve significantly.”
Vaccinated players could arrive any time after December 1, must have a negative test within 72 hours of departing for Australia and test again within 24 hours of arrival. Otherwise, there will be no restrictions, the email said.
Tennis Australia told AFP it was “optimistic that we can hold the Australian Open as close to pre-pandemic conditions as possible”.
“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,” it added.
The apparent move to allow unvaccinated players into Australia contradicts comments from senior government officials last week, including Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who said “every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated”.
However, Victoria state Sports Minister Martin Pakula insisted Monday that the vaccination requirements were “not settled yet”.
“We’re still talking to the Commonwealth (national government) 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 in response to the leaked email.
Picture: Novak Djokovic – Twitter