Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has slammed the door shut on tennis star Novak Djokovic playing in the 2022 Australian Open – unless he is fully vaccinated against the virus.
Mr Hawke said Djokovic would denied entry to Australia, unless he confirmed he had had both COVID shots.
“Our health advice is that when we open the borders, everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double vaccinated,” Mr Hawke told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
“I don’t have a message to Novak.
“I have a message to everyone who wishes to visit Australia, you’ll need to be double vaccinated.
“That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players.”
Djokovic was already looking unlikely to play in Melbourne after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said unvaccinated players would be unlikely to be allowed at the 2022 Open and the Serbian star again declined to reveal if he has received a COVID-19 jab.
Victoria has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes, although authorities have not yet clarified requirements ahead of next year’s grand slam.
On Tuesday, Mr Andrews flagged the issue was likely to be taken out of the state government’s hands – pointing to issues confirmed by Mr Hawke on Wednesday.
“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” the Premier said.
“If they did get a visa, they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks when no other players will have to.
“AFL players have to be vaccinated, but they’re Aussies, they’re not coming from other countries.
“I don’t think any other tennis player, or golfer, or Formula One driver, will even get a visa to get here.
“Professional sport is part of that authorised worker list and they have to be double dose vaccinated.”
Djokovic, the world No.1, was asked on Monday about his chances of defending his crown at Melbourne Park in January.
“Things being as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” he told the online edition of Serbian daily Blic.
“I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry.
“People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person.
“Whatever you say ‘yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it’, they will take advantage.”
Djokovic has won the season’s opening grand slam a record nine times, including the past three editions.
The 34-year-old last competed at the US Open, where his bid to complete the calendar slam – winning all four majors in the same year – was ended by Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final.
Djokovic, who is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on a record 20 grand slam titles, said he planned to compete in the Paris Masters, the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and the Davis Cup before the end of 2021.
“Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam tournament,” he said
“I want to compete, I love this sport and I am still motivated.
“I am following the situation regarding the Australian Open and I understand the final decision [on COVID-19 related restrictions] will be made in two weeks.
“I believe there will be a lot of restrictions just like this year, but I doubt there will be too many changes.
“My manager, who is in contact with the Australian tennis federation, tells me they are trying to improve the conditions for everyone, both for those who have been vaccinated and those who have not.”