IOL Sport: “Organisers say the practice will ‘establish and maintain the health and safety of the players’ and stop ‘unnecessary risk to player health’
The Australian Open will require female competitors to be fully vaccinated against the virus who compete in January.
Two women, Japan’s Naomi Osaka and Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, have dropped out of the first grand slam of the year this week, citing concerns about contracting the virus. They were among a growing number of players who believe they are at a higher risk of contracting the illness than men.
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The Tennis Australia chief executive, Craig Tiley, said “vulnerable” groups in the WTA will be covered by the vaccines given new strategic investment to the Sport Immunisation and Injury Prevention Plan, released on Wednesday.
“This will establish and maintain the health and safety of the players and set the best practice standard for the event,” Tiley said.
Tiley said it was an important announcement as it targets “vulnerable groups including professional women, professional men, indigenous Australians, persons with a disability, children under the age of five, particularly in remote communities, school leavers and family planning groups”.
“As WTA player immunisation is provided by world health organisations and WTA players do not need to be immunised at this time, the plan will focus specifically on providing immunisation services at the elite level and potentially before the event.”
Australian Open officials said if a player was not immunised at one of the three camps before the tournament, they could miss out on matches.
“We will not allow individual players to miss a match because they have not received the necessary vaccinations,” said Tiley.
“Consequently, we are asking the WTA to help implement this plan and if the potential of the immunisations not being ready, the tournament would be obliged to request a medical exemption.”