Unvaccinated players allowed entry for Australian Open, says PM Scott Morrison

Morrison's comments contradicted those of his immigration minister Alex Hawke, who said last week that tennis players and other athletes would have to be double vaccinated to enter the country.

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison has said unvaccinated tennis players would be allowed to enter the country to play at the Australian Open in February if they underwent a mandatory two-week COVID-19 quarantine.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said unvaccinated tennis players would be allowed to enter the country to play at the Australian Open in February if they underwent a mandatory two-week COVID-19 quarantine.

Morrison's comments contradicted those of his immigration minister Alex Hawke, who said last week that tennis players and other athletes would have to be double vaccinated to enter the country.

"All the same rules have to apply to everyone," Morrison told Seven News.

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"Whether you're a Grand Slam winner, a prime minister or a business traveller, a student or whoever. Same rules. The states will set the rules about the quarantine as they are."

However, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said his government will not apply for travel permits to allow unvaccinated tennis players to compete at the tournament in the state.

"On behalf of every vaccinated Victorian who has done the right thing, my government will not be applying for an exemption for any unvaccinated player,” he told reporters.

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"If we don’t apply for an exemption, then no exemption will be granted and then the whole issue is basically resolved."

Australia's borders have been effectively sealed for 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though authorities approve travel exemptions for special cases.

Victoria has been Australia's hardest-hit state, with its capital Melbourne locked down six times. The sixth lockdown ended on Friday, but only for fully vaccinated adults.

Unvaccinated adults remain banned from pubs, restaurants, sporting events and other parts of the economy, and may be shut out until well into 2022.

Victoria's position is a blow for the Grand Slam's organisers Tennis Australia, who want a strong field for the tournament in January.

Some top players, including defending champion Novak Djokovic, have declined to disclose their vaccination status. Serbia's world number one said last week he might not play at the tournament

Professional athletes in the state are under a vaccine mandate, which also covers coaches, officials, media and other staff involved in elite competition.

Currently around 70 per cent of the top 100 men and women players are vaccinated.

If Djokovic decides to go to Australia, he will be favourite to win a record 21st men's singles Grand Slam title moving him out of a tie with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.