Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula has warned unvaccinated tennis players they will face stricter rules at the 2022 Australian Open compared to their vaccinated counterparts.
The year’s first grand slam is planned for January in Melbourne, with Mr Pakula “very confident” of it proceeding.
Tennis Australia is yet to outline the quarantine requirements or vaccination conditions for international players as well as spectators.
The US Open, which started this week, required fans to show proof of vaccination for entry.
Both the men’s and women’s main tours say that vaccination rates of their players are currently just above 50 per cent.
While they are encouraging jabs it is not compulsory, with players such as world No.1 Novak Djokovic, who contracted the virus last year, saying it should be a personal decision.
French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas has declared he won’t be vaccinated unless it’s made mandatory.
Former No.1 Andy Murray is vaccinated and says as regular international travellers, players have a responsibility to “look out for others”.
Mr Pakula backed that view, saying he expected vaccinated players to have more freedoms in Melbourne.
“Whether or not it’s as strict as you won’t get into Australia if you’re not vaccinated, that I don’t know,” Mr Pakula told SEN.
“What I’m very clear on, what I’m very sure about, is that the rules for unvaccinated players and the rules for vaccinated players, I’m quite confident will be very different.
“We’ll provide clarity for the ATP and the WTA very shortly, but I think they can be very confident that being vaccinated will be a wise thing for them to do before they seek to come to Australia.”
Mr Pakula said he believed the 2022 tournament would go ahead at Melbourne Park as scheduled.
“It’s hard to be certain about anything right now but I’m very confident that the Australian Open will go ahead,” Mr Pakula said.
“On our vaccine horizon, the second half of January we should be in a very good position.
“We were able to get the tournament away last year and that was with zero per cent of the community vaxxed.
“So I’m very confident the Australian Open will go ahead and it’s very important that it does.”
Australian Open organisers are hopeful players can avoid the hard hotel quarantine they endured in 2021 due to rising vaccination rates in the general public nation-wide.
They are planning for a two-week bubble, where players will be able to move freely between their accommodation and the courts.