The new year has ushered in a new set of rules that immunized athletes now must follow. As a result, the next Australian Open could see the smallest turnout of the year due to the need to be immunized. But no unscheduled purchase will be made on medical equipment or attending a gym will be discounted for Australians who don’t want to be vaccinated.
Australian sport players say they’ve been made to feel second-class citizens because they’re forced to adhere to new regulations when it comes to immunization. A group of basketball players included women’s gold medalist Kayla Alexander, who said: “Why aren’t my health and the health of my family protected?”
The new protocols, which have been implemented by a compromise between the Tennis Australia and Australian Anti-Doping Authority, dictates all individuals are required to be immunized before they can compete. Additionally, at the Australian Open men’s and women’s singles champions and winners of men’s doubles, mixed doubles and the final two round of women’s singles semi-finals and finals will receive an automatic exemption from any necessary vaccinations. Anyone who cannot prove their immunity can still come to the tournament, but they will only be allowed to enter the room that has had immunizations completed, where they will be accompanied by security. Even then, they will be subject to random interviews.
Tennis officials said the change was made for health reasons and is an effort to prevent players from contracting potentially preventable illness.
Alexander has raised the issue with the Australian Open, but she’s yet to be granted an exemption.
“I have a family member with cancer,” Alexander said. “I want to have the opportunity to play and my health not to be at risk.”
The new regulations for Australian Open athletes go into effect Jan. 8.