Organisers have said they are "optimistic" the Australian Open will go ahead "as close to pre-pandemic conditions as possible" after a day of confusion that began with the prospect of unvaccinated players being barred from playing in Melbourne.
Tennis Australia released its statement in contradiction to state government officials in Victoria, who earlier on Monday rejected a leaked Women’s Tennis Association email which said players would be free to travel regardless of vaccination status.
According to the document, sent to players on the women’s tour on Sunday, unvaccinated players will be allowed into Australia for the first major of the year in January, but will be required to complete a 14-day “hard quarantine”.
The WTA received the news from Tennis Australia last Friday and opted to inform players so they would not be “confused by the rumours”. But it has had the opposite effect, as yesterday Victoria state officials threw doubt over those plans.
“All the people who are watching the tennis at the Australian Open, they are going to be double vaxxed,” Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said in response. “All the people who work there are going to be double vaxxed. Stands to reason that if you want to get into the country to be part of the tournament, then you should be doubled vaxxed as well."
Tennis Australia then followed with a much more positive message for players, which only added to the mixed messaging. “We are working with the Victorian and Federal Governments on the conditions for players at Australian Open 2022," a statement read.
“Everyone has been buoyed by the easing of restrictions [in Victoria] over the past week, along with the Premier’s announcement yesterday that large crowds will be welcomed back to events next year.
“We are optimistic that we can hold the Australian Open as close to pre-pandemic conditions as possible.”
The Association of Tennis Professionals confirmed this month that 35 per cent of men’s players were not fully vaccinated, while for women the number was 40 per cent.