According to an email received from the press, the WTA Tour (Women’s Tennis Association) will not be able to participate in next year’s Australian Open after undergoing a 14-day quarantine.
The message, obtained by journalist Ben Rothenberg, contradicts a statement made last week by Australia’s immigration minister that players would need vaccinations to obtain visas to compete in the Grand Slam.
A significant proportion of women’s WTA and men’s ATP tournament players remain unaffiliated, and world number one male Novak Djokovic has refused to disclose his vaccination status.
In the email, the WTA said it seeks to “clarify false and misleading information” about the situations players are facing at the Australian Open.
The WTA said the information came from organizers Tennis Australia, who asked players to maintain confidentiality for “a few days” as they were still discussing details with the government.
Tennis Australia declined to comment on the arrangements for non-vaccinated players, including those in quarantine. “We are optimistic that we can organize the Australian Open as closely as possible to the pre-pandemic situation,” the governing body said in a statement.
All players from abroad for the 2021 edition of the Australian Open had to undergo a two-week quarantine, although most were allowed to leave their hotels for training.
Victoria State Sports Minister Martin Pakula said officials were still deciding whether foreign players without vaccinations would be allowed into the country.
“We are still resolving with Tennis Australia and the Commonwealth whether unvaccinated foreigners will be allowed to enter Australia and if so, under what circumstances they will be allowed,” he said.
Territory chief Daniel Andrews said last week that there would be no special arrangements for unvaccinated players to compete in the state, where vaccinations are mandatory for athletes, coaches and professional sports officials.
Pakula reported that, according to Craig Tilly, head of Tennis Australia, the vaccination rate among tennis players is around 80%. He confirmed that fully vaccinated players will not have to be quarantined upon arrival in Australia.
“The one thing we can all guarantee is that vaccinated players will be treated the same way as any other vaccination in the country,” he said.
From 1 November, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents arriving in Sydney and Melbourne and their overseas resident family members will no longer be required to quarantine.
The WTA email said that qualifying for the Australian Open, which was moved to the UAE for the 2021 tournament, will take place at Melbourne Park as usual.
The WTA declined to comment on the report. The Australian Open is scheduled to begin on January 17.