Australian tennis player John Millman said that unvaccinated players should have the chance to compete at the Australian Open, as long as they complete 14 days of quarantine.
Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison and other ministers have supported the move, stating that unvaccinated players who complete the quarantine should be granted exemptions akin to allowing other workers with specialist skills in.
But the southeast state of Victoria, the home of Melbourne Park where the tournament will be held, has mandated that authorised workers, including tennis players, must be double jabbed.
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This will affect all staff, officials and spectators at the first Grand Slam of the year and Victoria premier, Daniel Andrews, has no desire to seek an exemption for those on the court.
At present, Mr Andrews seems unlikely to budge but with the prime minister maintaining the line that post-quarantine players are safe, the ATP has work to do to confirm who will be on the roster.
Millman told Australian radio station 3AW: “I’m pro vaccination. I’m all for getting the jab. I’ve had it and I’m feeling good.
But I do want to see an opportunity for all the players to be able to play tennis, whether that be unvaccinated people having to go in and do the 14 days hard quarantine.
“I’d like to see them at least have that opportunity.”
Millman, who is currently ranked 57 in the world, is a member of the ATP Player Council, a role that involves meeting to discuss ideas that will positively impact the game at a player and a team level.
He is currently playing in Russia at the St Petersburg Open and yesterday beat Aslan Karatsev in straight sets.
Take up for the vaccination on the men’s tour has been slow with only around seven out of 10 players getting jabbed. The rate is equivalent to the entirety of the UK.
The ATP are yet to make the vaccine compulsory, but are not going to stand in the way of the rules set by local and government jurisdictions, Millman added.
The Australian player expects many leading tennis players to make the trip regardless of the two-week quarantine in a situation similar to last year’s Open, before mass vaccination was available.
Tennis Australia has been resisting moving towards mandatory vaccination for all players but now finds itself caught between state and national regulations.
With tennis tournaments held 46 weeks of the year, it is thought to be difficult for players to find the right ‘window’ to be vaccinated so as not to affect their performance.
World number one Novak Djokovic looks set to miss out on the Australian Open as he again refused to reveal his vaccination status.
The nine-time Australian Open winner will likely be refused entry to Victoria and told Serbian media that he does not know if he will go at all.
He told daily newspaper Blic that he has travel fears for all players, citing the ‘bad memory’ of quarantining in the early days of the pandemic.
Depending on the individual rules of the destination country, some players saw out the 14 days confined to their hotel rooms, while others were allowed to train individually.
Australia’s borders are currently closed to almost all travel, with only citizens, residents and immediate family members allowed to enter.
They recently announced that the travel corridor with New Zealand would be closed following an outbreak until 31 October.
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