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Vaccinated players will get the best opportunity of playing at the Australian Open, says minister

tennis players aiming to compete in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park should get vaccinated for COVID-19 to improve their chances of competing in the Grand Slam, according to an Australian government official.

All professional athletes in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, are required to be vaccinated, but authorities have yet to clarify if athletes from overseas or other Australian states are also required to get vaccinated.

Martin Pakula, Victoria’s sports minister, advised athletes to leave no space for uncertainty.

“If I was an ATP or WTA player, I’d be getting vaccinated,” Pakula told local radio station SEN.

“That will give them the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open with the more minimal restrictions that might be in place for those people.”

The women’s WTA and men’s ATP tours have both pushed players to get vaccinated, although several have expressed skepticism, including Australian Open men’s winner Novak Djokovic, who is against vaccine mandates.

Tennis Australia, which organises the Grand Slam, has not revealed any player arrangements for the January event.

Fully vaccinated players, on the other hand, are expected to have more mobility and may be able to skip the country’s mandated 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

Non-residents are effectively barred from entering Australia, and Pakula said he had no idea whether unvaccinated persons would be able to enter by the time the Australian Open begins on January 17.

“That’s going to be the subject, I suspect, of discussion at national cabinet and amongst the federal cabinet,” he said.

“As for the rules that might apply around the Australian Open, specifically, we’re in discussions with Tennis Australia and the department of health about that.”

Victoria will ease some lockdown restrictions when 70 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated, which is expected in late October according to official projections.

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