International tennis stars have been urged to get vaccinated if they’re serious about playing at the Australian Open next year.
“If I were an ATP or WTA player, I would get vaccinated,” Victoria’s Sports Minister Martin Pakula told Melbourne radio station SEN on Monday.
“It will give them the best opportunity to play at the Australian Open with the more minimal restrictions that could apply to these people.”
The Victorian state government introduced mandatory vaccination for authorized workers, which includes professional athletes, this month.
Tennis Australia has not yet released any detailed plans on how players will arrive for the tennis summer and what rules will apply to them in Melbourne.
Before the US Open in late August, around 50 percent of the ATP and WTA Tour players were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Victoria’s vaccination mandate could keep world number 1 Novak Djokovic from becoming the all-time record holder for most Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam wins, but the world number 1 would start as a hot favorite to take it to 21st place in January as he has a record of nine finals in Melbourne Park won.
The Serbian superstar has made his vaccination intentions clear.
“I am against vaccinations and I don’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to travel,” he said in April 2020.
Pakula said it was too early to say how governments and tennis authorities were handling unvaccinated overseas tennis players.
“Whether or not unvaccinated people are allowed to enter (Australia) at all, I still have no answer,” he said.
“I suspect that will be the subject of discussions in the national and federal cabinet.
“As for the rules that might apply specifically around the Australian Open, we’re in discussions with Tennis Australia and the Ministry of Health.”
The players had to go through a two-week quarantine before this year’s Open, but were able to travel freely around the world for most of the season.