Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open tennis defense in tatters after immigration minister’s statement on vaccine
Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open title defense is in serious doubt after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said only doubly vaccinated travelers would be allowed into Australia once borders open.
One day later Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews insisted there would be no special arrangements for tennis superstars To get around the rules around vaccination, Hawke’s statement apparently represents a fatal blow to the Serbian world number 1.
“Our health advice is that when we open the borders everyone who comes to Australia will have to be doubly vaccinated,” Mr Hawke told ABC radio.
“I have no message for Novak.
“I have a message to anyone wishing to visit Australia, you will need to be double vaccinated.
“It’s a universal app, not just for tennis players.”
Djokovic, up to 20 Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, refused to reveal his vaccine status again this week and said he was unsure of defending his Australian Open crown .
“Things being as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” Djokovic told Serbian news site Blic.
“I will not disclose my status whether or not I have been vaccinated, this is a private matter and an inappropriate investigation.
“Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful Grand Slam tournament. I want to compete, I love the sport and I’m still motivated.
The 34-year-old said he was ‘against vaccinations’ last year and recently revealed he was waiting for clearer advice from Australian authorities on COVID-19 restrictions for the planned Melbourne Park Grand Slam in January.
Now it looks like the advice has been spoken loud and clear.
Victoria, who is due to emerge from a nearly three-month lockdown this week, recently included professional athletes in a vaccine mandate covering millions of “authorized workers.”
Andrews suggested the mandate also covered international athletes.
“Professional sport is one of those (items on the) list of authorized workers and they need to be double-dose vaccinated,” he said.
Andrews said Victoria’s position could be a “moot point” given that the federal government may not issue visas to unvaccinated athletes.
“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player will get a visa to enter this country and if he gets a visa he should probably be quarantined for a few weeks,” he added.
“I don’t think the person you indicated (Djokovic) or any other tennis player, don’t personalize it… or a golfer or a Formula 1 driver will even get a visa to come here.
“If I’m wrong, I’m sure the federal government will let you know. “
Australia’s borders have been closed to non-residents during the pandemic, although authorities have issued visas to athletes and sports personnel for major events, including the last Australian Open in February.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government will ease border controls for residents and family members based abroad from next month, but international tourists and other visa classes will have to wait longer .
Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, has been closed since August as authorities rushed to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.
Restrictions for the city’s five million residents will be eased from Friday, when 70% of Victoria’s adult population is expected to be fully vaccinated.
Unvaccinated people, however, will remain excluded from sporting events as well as restaurants, pubs and other sectors of the economy.
Andrews said the ban on unvaccinated fans could apply until the 2022 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in April.
“It’s there for a while…. We’re not going to basically encourage people not to get the vaccine because they think they can wait a few months or a few weeks,” he said.
“You can’t wait for the coronavirus.”
Tennis Australia has so far declined to comment on the matter.
– With CNN