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Prospect of no jab, no visa for AO stars

Novak Djokovic AFP FILE PHOTO

ELITE tennis players are being urged to get a Covid-19 vaccination or risk missing the Australian Open next January.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, whose state hosts the season-opening major at Melbourne Park, has already introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes competing in domestic sports leagues and people working in some industries.

On Tuesday, he increased the pressure on tennis players traveling from abroad.

“I don’t think any unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” Andrews said. “If they did get a visa, they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks when no other players will have to.”

Australia’s federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the policy for all incoming arrivals, including international athletes, will be the same.

“Our health advice is that when we open the borders everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double-vaccinated,” Hawke told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. early Wednesday.

Australia is preparing to re-open its international borders for the first time in more than 18 months, but it’ll be a gradual, state-by-state process starting next month and will depend on vaccination rates across the country. Fully vaccinated people will have fewer restrictions in Australia than those who are not.

The vaccination debate has been ongoing in tennis since international competition started re-emerging following a global shutdown last year.

Some players, including men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic, have advocated that the decision to get the vaccine should be a personal choice. Others, including Andy Murray, have said it should be mandated for the good of the majority.

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