Earlier in the week, Victoria Premier, Daniel Andrews asserted that players who have not received their vaccination will likely not be permitted to compete in the Australian Open in January 2022. “[The virus] doesn’t care what your tennis ranking is or how many Grand Slams you’ve won. It’s completely irrelevant. You need to be vaccinated to keep yourself safe and to keep others safe,” Andrews said. If you are unvaccinated, you’re out.
As of Wednesday, likely is out the window, as the Australian government has made it mandatory that anyone, including tennis players, is double vaccinated. “The government in establishing its borders has said that you’ll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia. That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated,” Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrisson will be opening travel to-and-from the Country starting November 1, 2021– for those fully vaccinated and permanent citizens, making it imperative that the Country stay the course and don’t deviate from their plan.
Reportedly 65% of the ATP Tour has been vaccinated, while 60% of the WTA Tour has received their vaccinations. However, conflicting reports have the numbers as low as 35% (ATP) and 40% (WTA), leaving a wide margin for ambiguity as to where each tour stands. Many countries throughout Europe have different regulations and restrictions, which can ultimately leave it extremely difficult for those who have not received their double vaccination to travel. “I feel like I’m enjoying a fairly normal life, whereas, for the players that haven’t, it’s different. I’m sure they’ll be frustrated with that,” Andy Murray said in an interview in August regarding his decision to get vaccinated. “I’m happy that I’m vaccinated. I’m hoping that more players choose to have it,” Murray said.
Men’s World No.1 Novak Djokovic has not publically stated whether he is vaccinated or not, calling the topic “a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry,” as he told Serbian publication Blic. “Things being as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” Djokovic said. With so much uncertainty surrounding the allowance of travel into the Country for those unvaccinated, this certainly will put Djokovic’s status for the tour’s first Grand Slam of the 2022 season.
Early lines for the Australian Open have Djokovic as the favorite to successfully defend his title at +130, with Daniil Medvedev a distant second-favorite at +375. With Australia’s own and women’s World No. 1 Ash Barty deadlocked with Naomi Osaka as favorites at +475, Emma Raducanu catapulted into the third favorite at +750. As these are early lines, paired with the Australian government requirements to enter the Country and the high number of unvaccinated players – from either report- of players vaccinated, the 2022 Australian Open in both the men’s and women’s draws could look very different.