Sutton: Unvaccinated tennis players could be possible

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton believes the risk of unvaccinated international arrivals can be adequately managed through the quarantine system, a point that, if accepted, could allow unjabbed tennis players to take part in the Australian Open in January.

But the challenges for unvaccinated players would not end with a completed stint of quarantine, with the prospect that the Australian Open could have two sets of rules – ease of movement for vaccinated athletes compared to strict conditions for those not.

Australian Open.Credit:Getty Images

Amid the fallout of the Women’s Tennis Association communicating to its members that unvaccinated players could enter Australia so long as they completed two weeks of hotel quarantine, Professor Sutton and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews again declared on Tuesday that only the federal government decided who could be let into the country.

Tennis Australia continues to liaise with both with levels of government and is looking at the most recently completed major, the US Open in New York, as a model for how the Australian Open could be run given that US tennis officials did not implement a vaccine mandate for players.

TA are working feverishly to present multiple models to government.

Sources with knowledge of the situation said the scenario planning means they will utilise parts of the way the United States Tennis Association ran the US Open.

The tournament hosted full capacity, vaccinated crowds for the entire two weeks, but implemented two sets of rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.

Players were ruled out of the US Open and entered isolation if they returned a positive test at any stage, regardless of their vaccination status.

But there was no “bubble” for unvaccinated players, allowing them to eat at restaurants, sit at cafes and enjoy nightlife as they pleased.

However, that is where the similarities between the two categories of players finished.

If a vaccinated player was deemed a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, they could play in the days following provided they returned a negative test.

If an unvaccinated player was deemed a close contact, they were forced to withdraw from the tournament.

It’s a model which TA hopes will encourage even more players to be vaccinated before the Australian summer season.

“The easing of restrictions over the past two weeks has been a great boost to our planning for the Australian Open,” a TA spokesperson said.

“We are also working with the government and both the women’s and men’s tours on the lead in to the Australian Open, and look forward to announcing more detail soon.”

On Tuesday, Professor Sutton was quizzed about scenarios for vaccine-hesitant tennis stars.

“I mean, it’s not my decision to make about entry into Australia but I think if someone is unvaccinated, they can be managed through that formal quarantine system as we’ve done for all international arrivals to date,” Professor Sutton said.

“So if they’re unvaccinated and they’re allowed into the country, then we can manage the risk through that formal quarantine process in hotel quarantine or in a dedicated setting.”

He said because of the significant community transmission of COVID-19 we were in a “different world” to the one that earlier this year forced droves of players into 14 days of quarantine before taking part in February’s Australian Open.

“It’s not ultimately my call as to whether they’re allowed into the country but if they are, we will manage that risk and I think it’ll be managed just as robustly if an unvaccinated person is there to go through that full quarantine period.

“At the end of that 14 days, if they haven’t developed illness, then they’re not going to be a risk, in the same way that a fully vaccinated person is a much lesser risk.”

The Premier, however, said he agreed with Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s statement last week that only double-vaccinated people would be permitted entry into Australia.

“That is a matter for the Commonwealth,” he said. “No one’s trying to pretend it’s like state governments [which] issue visas or passports.”

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article