Amidst claims that Tennis Australia (TA) is seeking loopholes for unvaccinated players in the form of medical exemptions, the governing body for tennis in the country has come out strongly in denial of the allegations.
The news comes after media reports from both in and out of Australia speculated that Tennis Australia might make use of these "loopholes" to attract as many top players to the Australian Open as possible.
Tennis Australia also went on to reiterate that it will never interfere with matters of debate over health policy that adhere to the guidelines issued by the authorities.
"Any suggestion that Tennis Australia is seeking ‘loopholes’ within this process is simply untrue," a TA spokesperson said.
“Adjudicating on medical exemptions is the domain of independent medical experts. We are not in a position to influence this process, and nor would we," the spokesperson further added.
This was backed up by Victoria's Deputy Premier James Merlino, who emphasized the state's previous stance on double vaccination.
"It’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players," Merlino said. “It is a medical exemption in exceptional circumstances if you have an acute medical condition," he added."
Tennis Australia also clarified that the rules applied to everyone entering Australia, irrespective of whether they were players, officials or spectators.
"Any application for a medical exemption must follow strict government guidelines," the spokesperson said. "This is the same process that applies to any person wanting to enter Australia,” he added.
Novak Djokovic announces participation at ATP Cup
Speculation regarding the issue of unvaccinated players and loopholes arose after the ATP Cup released the list of players committed to playing in the tournament.
The list included World No.1 Novak Djokovic, who is yet to publicly announce his vaccination status and participation in the Australian Open.
The ATP Cup follows the same COVID-19 health protocols as the Australian Open, therefore implying that if the Serb is elligible to play at the event he is also eligible to play at the Grand Slam.
"He (Djokovic) has put his name on the entry list and that means you've got to believe that he's coming all the way through the summer," Woodbridge said.