Tennis: Victoria lockdown bans fans at Australian Open
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Novak Djokovic may have a chance to compete in next year’s Australian Open after one official branded the rules as “wrong”. It is expected that unvaccinated players will not be allowed into the country to compete in the first Grand Slam of the upcoming season, and the world No 1 has previously spoken out against vaccine mandates, recently admitting he was unsure on travelling to Melbourne to the tournament.
Djokovic’s title defence at the Australian Open has looked more and more in doubt as government officials move to ban unvaccinated players.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews admitted he thought visas would only be given to vaccinated players after the nine-time champion himself cast doubts over his participation, telling Serbian newspaper Blic: “I don’t know if I’m going to Australia, I don’t know what’s going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all.”
Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke and Health Minister Greg Hunt have since all but confirmed that players who are not double jabbed will be banned from the first Grand Slam of the year.
“Our health advice is that when we open the borders, everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double vaccinated,” Hawke told ABC Radio on Wednesday (October 20).
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He added: “I don’t have a message to Novak. I have a message to everyone who wishes to visit Australia, you’ll need to be double vaccinated.
“That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players.”
However, one backbencher for the Nationals has since spoken out and branded the expected rules for the Australian Open “wrong”, suggesting there should be another exception that would see the Serb allowed to enter the country and compete.
Senator Matt Canavan said those who have already tested positive for Covid should be allowed into the country thanks to natural immunity, and Djokovic himself contracted the virus last year.
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“We should change the rules. Those rules are wrong,” he told Channel Nine’s Today Show.
The backbencher insisted it wasn’t a rule specifically for Djokovic, instead for anyone who had tested positive in the past, though the world No 1 would benefit from such an exception.
He added: “I’m not saying it should be a rule for Novak, it should be a rule for everybody. If you’ve had Covid and have natural immunity, you’re better off.”
Though Canavan’s comments could give Djokovic hope of competing in his most successful Major tournament and getting the chance to win a record 21st Grand Slam title, the Victorian Australian Medical Association President also explained why the vaccine was valued above natural antibodies, which have previously been said to wear off after around six months.
Dr Roderick McRae said: “I understand he [Djokovic] had it but, believe it or not, the immunity from the vaccination is better than the immunity from catching the disease.
“I think there is an element of standards. It’s important our leaders make these decisions in our interests and it [banning unvaccinated travellers] demonstrates to the community just how important we take this.”
While no rules have officially been put in place, it is expected that unvaccinated players will not be allowed to enter the country.
Meanwhile, the state of Victoria has announced that all double-jabbed travellers will no longer need to complete a two-week hotel quarantine on arrival into the country, a rule which is expected to take effect on November 1, when the state of New South Wales introduces the same measure.
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