Novak Djokovic and co to be given Australian Open lifeline? Leaked email suggests vaccination policy U-turn

Australian Open logo at Melbourne Park

Tennis players who still have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus may have been given a lifeline to compete in the 2022 Australian Open with a leaked email to WTA players claiming they will be allowed entry into Australia.

Barely a week after Australian government officials insisted that all players will need to be double vaccinated if they are to be handed visas to compete in next year’s hard-court Grand Slam, it has emerged that there could be a way into the tournament for those who have not had their shots.

Novak Djokovic warned ‘it doesn’t matter if you are No 1 you need to be vaccinated’ to compete in Australian Open

Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke and Health Minister Greg Hunt both warned Novak Djokovic – who had previously admitted that he is opposed to a vaccine policy in order to travel – that he is unlikely to be allowed to enter the country.

However, an email sent to WTA players and leaked to journalist Ben Rothenburg claims that those who have not been vaccinated will be able to play if they complete 14 days of hard quarantine in a hotel.

“We have been communicating regularly with Craig [Tiley] and the Tennis Australia team in recent months and they shared some good news with us on our Players Council call last Friday that we would like to share with you so that we know the facts and are not confused by the rumours that have been circulating,” the email read.

“Tennis Australia has asked us to wait a few days before speaking about it as they were still working with the government on the details.

“Because Victoria’s vaccination rate will hit 80 percent at the end of the week and 90 percent next month, it has been confirmed that conditions for players at the Australian Open will improve significantly.”

While all players can arrive Australia after December 1, those who have been vaccinated will have complete freedom of movement while those who have not had their shots will need to spend 14 days in quarantine and will need to undergo regular testing.

Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula, though, insisted that it is not yet official that unvaccinated players will be given visas.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” he told radio station 3AW.

“We’re still talking to the feds and that will play out over the next two or three weeks.

“And it will be done in plenty of time for all of the players to know what the requirements are and for those who aren’t vaccinated to get vaccinated.

“We are still resolved with Tennis Australia and the Commonwealth the question of whether unvaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed into Australia at all and, if so, under what circumstances.”