Good news for the players and their staff members who will have to travel to Australia next January to compete in the Australian Open. According to a confidential letter sent by the WTA to the players, the contents of which however soon leaked to the specialized press, the information that has circulated in recent days that unvaccinated athletes are not allowed to enter Australia is not true.
The Government of the State of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, has not yet approved the plan developed by Tennis Australia and the players’ associations, but according to when communicated to the athletes all those who will be fully vaccinated (therefore two doses, taken for at least 14 days) will be able to enter Australia starting December 1st after a negative test carried out 72 hours before departure. There will be a test on arrival within 24 hours of landing in Australia, but that aside there will be no other restrictions: no quarantine, no limitation to movements, in short, a normal trip.
For those who are not vaccinated, the conditions foreseen at the moment are the following: the possible arrival date will always be that of December 1st, but there will be a requirement of two weeks of quarantine in a hotel decided by the government; it will remain the obligation to have a negative test within 72 hours of departure, and during the quarantine the subjects will be subjected to frequent tests. No concession to the possibility of training as happened last year for those who had not had close contact with positive subjects: whoever is not vaccinated will have to pass 14 days locked in a hotel room without being able to play tennis.
The letter confirms the presence of charter flights that will be organized from various departure airports to facilitate the arrival of athletes in Australia, but it will not be mandatory to use them. Australia has in fact decided to gradually reopen the borders starting from November (for the moment only for citizens and residents) and the airlines are adjusting their offer to allow those who want to go to the new continent to be able to reach it.
Obviously the situation is far from clear: this is the proposal on which we are working at the moment, but which has not yet obtained the authorization from the competent authorities. There is also a lack of information on the treatment of so-called “close contacts”, ie those who have been in contact with an individual who then tested positive, whether they are vaccinated or not.
What seems to be confirmed, and which contradicts communications that had been given previously, is that the Australian Open 2022 qualifiers will be held in Melbourne Park, and not in the Middle East as previously assumed. This means that Australia is preparing to welcome far more players, coaches and staff than the one who made the trip to Melbourne last February, and that it is most likely assumed that most of these people will be vaccinated. . Otherwise, in fact, it would be necessary to provide them with a very large number of hotel rooms for quarantine, in a period in which there are still tens of thousands of Australians who have been waiting for over a year to be able to return home from their families.
If these indications are taken as valid, therefore, it can be deduced that vaccination will not be a prerequisite to arrive in Australia, but will provide a huge advantage to those who want to play their chances of doing well in the first Slam of the season, or even just be able to live. a normal life during the Australian stay. In fact, it is necessary to remember that, in addition to the initial quarantine in the hotel without the possibility of training on the field or in the gym, lNon-vaccination would enable individuals to do practically nothing in Australia, since for any public activity (restaurants, bars, cinemas, etc…) the vaccination pass is required, and it is highly unlikely that this requirement will be abolished before the middle of next year.
The treatment of tennis players would therefore be equated to that of Australians returning to their homeland: a few weeks ago, in fact, New South Wales (the state of Sydney) and then Victoria began to allow vaccinated Australians to avoid quarantine in hotels, while maintaining the need for all those who are not vaccinated. Of course, tennis players would be exempt from the currently established arrival quotas, and entry into Australia would also be possible for non-Australians, something not permitted for all mere mortals not connected to the Australian Open, but the treatment once arrived in the land of kangaroos should be similar to that reserved for citizens.
Certainly there will be several updates on the issue in the coming days and weeks, but it is desirable that the details be worked out rather quickly because there is not much time left in December and it is necessary to give tennis players the possibility to plan their preparation and possibly their own. vaccination with sufficient notice.