As the threat of coronavirus is not fully over, vaccination against COVID-19 could become compulsory for tennis players competing in the forthcoming Australia Open in January next year, reported the Australian newspaper, The Age. The head of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, CEO of the Australian Football League, Gillon McLachlan, CEO of the Melbourne Cricket Club, Stuart Fox, and the Secretary of the Department of Jobs, Simon Phemister, all were on the same page that vaccination should be made compulsory for staff who work with the public and audiences.
However, Tiley expressed his concern that the vaccination mandate might cause issues for the players. The government's decision came after Tiley spent months raising concerns about the mandate, citing the risk of non-participation of a group of top players who refuse to be vaccinated.
On Friday, October 1, the Australian state of Victoria announced a list of authorised personnel who must receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination in the next two weeks. Professional athletes were also included in the mandate. Even if the new rules make the status of international athletes unclear, a separate mandate could be issued to cover tennis players who want to compete in the Australian Open, reported The Age.
Neither the ATP men's tour nor the WTA women's tour has expressed support for required vaccinations, but both highly encourage players to be inoculated. Last month, the ATP estimated that 50% of its players had been inoculated, while the WTA assessed that over 60% of its players had been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, with the new rule, the possibility of nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic not being allowed to play the Grand Slam has further increased. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews raised doubts that the Serbian tennis ace may not even be granted a visa if he does not get fully inoculated. Australian tennis strategist Craig O'Shannessy, who was part of Djokovic's coaching squad from 2017 to 2019, supported the vaccine mandate and said that it was the appropriate approach on many layers. He further stated that it is up to Novak to decide whether or not he wants to be vaccinated and if there is a mandate, it is his discretion whether or not to compete in the Grand Slam, reported The Age. It should be mentioned here that Australia Open 2022 is the 108th draw of an international tennis tournament which will be played in Melbourne from January 17 to 30.