Tennis: Victoria lockdown bans fans at Australian Open
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Conditions for players competing in the Australian Open have been thrown into further doubt after the cancellation of a warm-up tournament. The organiser of the Kooyong Classic confirmed that the event played in the lead-up to the Grand Slam tournament was being cancelled for a second year running, over uncertainty surrounding Covid restrictions for players. It comes after a leaked email revealed Tennis Australia was confident unvaccinated players could compete.
The likes of Novak Djokovic have been in doubt to compete in the first Grand Slam of the new season, as there are fears unvaccinated players could be banned.
Government ministers have been pushing for a vaccine mandate, though a leaked email sent to players by the WTA Players Council revealed that, in their most recent correspondence with Tennis Australia, tournament organisers were planning to welcome unjabbed players under the condition that they complete a two-week ‘hard’ hotel quarantine.
However, Australian newspaper The Age reported that the email leak could be a “setback” to allowing vaccinated players in.
Uncertainty still remains on the final decision the government and tournament will make on allowing unvaccinated players to compete.
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Now, one of the tournaments held in the lead-up to the Australian Open has been cancelled in the wake of the uncertainty surrounding rules and restrictions for tennis players.
The Kooyong Classic has been cancelled for the second year in a row, as organisers blamed uncertainty over the Covid rules that will be applied to players travelling to Melbourne.
“With the great deal of uncertainty over recent months about the arrangements that would be in place in January, it has not been possible to make the best plans to deliver the best and safest sporting [event],” Kooyong president Adam Cossar said in a statement.
Players are still awaiting final confirmation on whether they must be double-vaccinated to enter the country and compete in the first Grand Slam of the 2022 season.
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If unvaccinated players were banned, nine-time champion Djokovic may be unable to compete.
The world No 1 has previously spoken out against vaccine mandates, and recently admitted he was unsure whether he would travel to Melbourne to play in the Australian Open as he refused to disclose his vaccination status.
“I don’t know if I’m going to Australia, I don’t know what’s going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all,” the 34-year-old told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I have my opinion and it has always been the same. I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not.”
Despite admitting he had an issue with revealing his vaccination stance, the 34-year-old also said his doubts over competing were from a “sporting” perspective.
“I’m telling you from the sporting point of view, I don’t know if I’ll go,” he added.
“Of course, I want to go, Australia is my most successful Grand Slam, I want to participate, I love this sport, I still have the motivation, but I said why I have this motivation. That’s the whole story.”
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