Australian Open: Officials confirm unvaccinated tennis players 'could still play'

Australian Open

Australian Open officials have confirmed a small percentage of tennis players and staff will be granted medical exemptions from vaccination to travel to Australia for the start of the new season.

Tournament boss Craig Tiley stressed that any individuals who successfully obtain a medical exemption –– a process overseen by Border Force –– will not have to complete mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

Speaking about the procedure for unvaccinated travellers, Tiley said: “The process of coming in is a 72-hour test before you get in [taken before flying], a negative test when you arrive, isolate until you get a negative result.

“You have to show proof of that negative test to get your accreditation, and then there’s a whole bunch of protocols to coach the players on what they need to be doing. They’re well versed in doing this around the world.

“All the players are staying in the same accommodation. We have a minimised risk environment at the Crown, and they’ll be staying there as a group. There will be testing on site. We’ll be managing their movement.”



Up to 3000 players and staff are set to arrive in Australia from December 28th onwards. But two of the game’s biggest names, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal may well be absent from the first major of the new year.

Nadal recently tested positive for Covid-19 after an exhibition event in the UAE and is currently undergoing a period of isolation.

Meanwhile, Djokovic has frequently declined to reveal his vaccination status and has previously expressed his belief that players should have “freedom of choice.”

However, Tiley remains confident that both Djokovic and Nadal will feature in Melbourne.

The tournament director revealed he’d spoken with the Serbian recently and emphasised the 20-time major winner is keen to defend his title as he searches for a 10th Australian Open trophy.

“If Novak shows up at the Australian Open, he’ll either be vaccinated or he’ll have a medical exemption,” Tiley confirmed. “[It’s] his choice on his medical condition, it’s his choice to keep personal and private like all of us would do with any condition we may or may not have. We are not going to force him or ask him to disclose that.”


Aside from Nadal, a number of women’s stars tested positive for Covid in Abu Dhabi.

Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and world number 10 Ons Jabeur have both confirmed they are isolating but are still hopeful of featuring in Melbourne.

Britain’s Emma Raducanu tested positive for the virus last week and is set to fly to Australia upon completion of her quarantine, ahead of just her third major tournament.

The new ‘exemption’ guidelines may also allow young Australian prodigy Olivia Gadecki to receive a wildcard after all.

The teenager played for Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup side this year but remains unvaccinated, which would’ve stopped her from playing on the Australian tennis circuit until now.

Olivia Gadecki

It’s still unknown who exactly will receive a medical exemption for the tournament, but Tiley is confident that all the right measures are in place.

“The great thing is that everyone [coming to Australia] is vaccinated.

“Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated and there will be a small percentage – a very small percentage – that will have a medical exemption.

“So if any player, fan [or] workforce is on-site here – you’re either vaccinated or you have a medical exemption that’s approved and you’re on the Australian Immunisation Register.

“That provides us with safety and an extra level of comfort on site.”

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