Sport Vaccine confusion for Aus Open as Victoria Premier contradicts PM
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Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said his government will not apply for travel permits to allow unvaccinated tennis players to compete at the Australian Open in the state after Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated they would be allowed into the country.
Morrison said earlier on Wednesday that unvaccinated players would be free to compete at the Grand Slam after undergoing a two-week Covid-19 quarantine provided that Victoria, which hosts the tournament in Melbourne, applied for permits for them.
Andrews said his state would make no such applications.
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"On behalf of every vaccinated Victorian who has done the right thing, my government will not be applying for an exemption for any unvaccinated player," he told reporters.
"If we don't apply for an exemption, then no exemption will be granted and then the whole issue is basically resolved."
Australia's borders have been effectively sealed for 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, though authorities approve travel exemptions for special cases.
Victoria has been Australia's hardest-hit state, with its capital Melbourne locked down six times. The sixth lockdown ended on Friday, but only for fully vaccinated adults.
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A Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 could be authorized by early November.Pfizer also announced on Friday that the vaccine is more than 90 percent effective at protecting school-age children from serious illness or hospitalization from Covid-19, similar to the level of protection it provides in adults.
Unvaccinated adults remain banned from pubs, restaurants, sporting events and other parts of the economy, and may be shut out until well into 2022.
Victoria's position is a blow for the Grand Slam's organisers Tennis Australia, who want a strong field for the tournament in January.
Some top players, including defending champion Novak Djokovic, have declined to disclose their vaccination status. Serbia's world No 1 said last week he might not play at the tournament.
Morrison had earlier told the Seven Network that unvaccinated players would need to quarantine for two weeks.
"All the same rules have to apply to everyone," he said. "Whether you're a Grand Slam winner, a prime minister or a business traveller, a student or whoever. Same rules."
Morrison's comments contradicted those of his immigration minister Alex Hawke, who said last week that tennis players and other athletes would have to be double vaccinated to enter the country.
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Professional athletes in Victoria are under a vaccine mandate, which also covers coaches, officials, media and other staff involved in elite competition.
Andrews said tennis players should be held to the same standard as everyone else at the event.
"I'm not going to require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event, to be vaccinated while players aren't," he said.
Currently, around 70 per cent of the top 100 men and women tennis players are vaccinated.
If Djokovic does play at Melbourne Park he will be favourite to win a record 21st men's Grand Slam singles title - moving him out of a tie with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.
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On Monday the US granted emergency approval for the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 after a study of 3,100 kids found it was safe.On Tuesday the US approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 after a study of 3,100 kids detected no serious side effects and found it was 90.7 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 infection.