England cricketers and the world’s best tennis players face being banned from the Ashes series and Australian Open if they failed to get fully vaccinated against coronavirus by the end of next month.
Professional athletes were included in a health order issued by the Australian state of Victoria On Friday that also included a requirement for “authorised workers” to have their first jab in the next fortnight.
Were the order not to be rescinded before the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne or January’s Australian Open, all those involved in the events would face having to be fully immunised.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, who announced the measure in response to an outbreak of the highly-infectious Delta variant of Covid-19, said it was “highly unlikely” England cricketers would be allowed into Australia at all unless they were “double-vaxxed”.
Defending nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is among several top tennis players known to have held out against the jab – although it was unclear on Friday whether that remained the case.
The same applied to Britain’s Johanna Konta, who has expressed reservations about taking the vaccine despite missing Wimbledon and the Olympics.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the measure in response to an outbreak of the highly-infectious Delta variant of Covid-19.
Asked about the Ashes series, which begins in Brisbane, Queensland, on December 8, he said: “I don’t issue passports or visas … but I think it is highly unlikely that the Commonwealth government will be letting anybody into this country that has not been double-vaxxed, certainly in the medium term. That might change over time.”
The categories of authorised workers covered by Friday’s health order included “professional or high-performance sportsperson, workers that support the safe running of that person’s professional sport” and broadcasters.
Authorised workers must have their first vaccine shot by October 15 and their second by November 26 or face being banned from their workplaces.
“Ultimately, if you want to come to work and you’re on the authorised list, you need to have your first jab by (Oct. 15),” Andrews told reporters as Victoria announced 1,143 new local Covid-19 cases.
The health order was issued as Australia cricket captain Tim Paine said the Ashes would go ahead even if England captain Joe Root refused to travel in protest against the host country’s tough Covid-19 quarantine restrictions.
Root and some of his team-mates have voiced doubts about the tour due to ‘bubble fatigue’ and concerns they would not be allowed to bring their families with them.
“The Ashes are going ahead. The first test is on December 8 – whether Joe is here or not,” Paine told radio station SEN Hobart.
“It’ll be worked out above us and then they’ll have a choice whether to get on that plane or not.
“No-one is forcing any England player to come. That’s the beauty of the world we live in – you have a choice. If you don’t want to come, don’t come.”
Cricket Australia has been negotiating with the country’s authorities over England players’ concerns.