Victoria’s ban on unvaccinated athletes for the Australian Open has placed its other major sporting events in jeopardy – potentially costing the state billions of dollars.
Premier Dan Andrews on Wednesday announced tennis players who have not received the jab or refuse to reveal their vaccination status will not be allowed to enter his state.
Mr Andrew’s tough stance has sparked fears the state could lose major sporting events, including the Grand Prix, in a massive blow to the already-crippled local economy which has suffered through two years of ongoing lockdowns.
Victoria’s vaccination mandates, which include professional athletes, will remain in place throughout 2022 – preventing Formula 1 drivers without the jab from competing in the April race next year.
Opposition major events spokesman David Southwick said Covid rules across the country needed to align.
Victoria’s vaccine policies for athletes have sparked fears the state could lose major sporting events from its calendar in 2022. Pictured: The 2019 Melbourne Grand Prix
‘We need a national approach or Victoria risks losing more major events if we are left behind. This is a major risk to our state being able to recover and rebuild,’ he told the Herald Sun.
‘How can you trust the government that put us so far behind to get us out in front again?’
Peter Jones, who manages a leading Australian events company, said a number of industries, like hospitality and tourism, were reliant on major events to draw in international visitors.
‘Everyone is hanging their hat on the tennis after being shut down for 18 months. There will be a flow-on effect that will go right through a number of sectors next year,’ he said.
The Grand Prix costs Victorian tax payers around $60million a year to stage – but the event is an even bigger boon for the state, drawing in hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
Mr Andrews has previously estimated it pumps about $2.5billion into the economy and generates more than 4,700 full-time jobs.
Unvaccinated tennis players will be barred from competing in the 2022 Australian Open under Victoria’s jab policies
Premier Dan Andrews this week butted heads with Prime Minister Scott Morrison after the pair announced contradictory vaccination rules for athletes entering the country
The fate of the Australian Open has been shrouded in confusion over the past week after federal and state authorities butted heads over vaccination border policies.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had flagged the possibility of unvaccinated players being able to travel to Australia for the January tournament, provided they complete 14 days of hotel quarantine.
But days later, the premier shutdown the prospect of overseas players entering his state once they arrived from overseas.
‘What I want to make very clear is that the state of Victoria will not be applying for any exemptions for unvaccinated players,’ he said on Wednesday.
‘I am not going to ask and require people sitting in the grandstand, people working at the event to be vaccinated while players aren’t. We’re not going to be applying for an exemption.
‘Therefore, the issue is basically resolved.’
Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke last week said that anyone who travelled to Australia must be fully vaccinated, before Mr Morrison on Wednesday revealed athletes without the jab would be able to quarantine.
Mr Morrison said while there were clear rules requiring Victorians to be vaccinated to take part in economic activity, ‘there needs to be a little bit of flexibility’.
‘We want major events in this country, a lot of jobs depends on it. We want Australia to show to the world that we are open,’ he said.
Mr Andrews said the ‘federal government had done a ‘complete 180’.
‘I was perfectly supportive of Minister Hawke’s view, which I took to be the view of the federal government and it appears that is not the case,’ Mr Andrews said.
Doubt has been cast over the participation of world no.1 Novak Djokovic (pictured) in the Australian grand slam tournament as the tennis star refuses to reveal his vaccination status
The ruling has put a cloud over whether world no.1 Novak Djokovic, who has repeatedly refused to reveal whether or not he has received a Covid-19 vaccine, will participate in the Australian grand slam.
Djokovic last week flagged he is unsure whether he will return to Melbourne to compete for his 10th Australian Open title due to the state’s Covid regulations.
Mr Andrews said ‘certain high-profile people who choose not to be vaccinated’ were making the wrong choice, noting about 95 per cent of Victorians in intensive care battling the virus were unvaccinated.
Victoria’s vaccine mandates, which came into effect on October 15, will virtually lock unvaccinated people out of the economy, barring them from going to pubs, restaurants, personal services, retail stores, or attending major events.
Almost 92 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and over have had at least their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine while 76.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.