A leaked letter written by Tennis Australia gave unvaccinated players false information about their ability to enter the country.
A document leaked by Tennis Australia (TA) allegedly showed the organization falsely informed unvaccinated players that they could enter the country for the Australian Open if they caught Covid in the past six months .
the Sun Herald Exclusively reported unvaccinated players were told in December that they simply had to prove they had had the virus within the past six months in order to get an exemption to enter the country and compete in the country’s first grand slam. year.
This despite the federal government advising Tennis Australia that past infections were not covered by its guidelines for medical exemptions. Letters from Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to TA in November reportedly showed the governing body was aware of the warning before giving players what is believed to be incorrect advice the month following.
Novak Djokovic’s team reportedly applied for his visa based on his recent Covid infection – but his visa was canceled because it was not a valid reason for a vaccination exemption.
On Friday night, it emerged that Czech doubles star Renata Voracova had also had her visa canceled for the same reason as Djokovic and was being held by border force officials at the Park Hotel in Carlton.
And this despite the fact that the 38-year-old world No.80 doubles player has already been cleared into the country and even participated in an Australian Open warm-up event in Melbourne.
The letter from Tennis Australia said players needed an overseas medical exemption certificate and a second exemption signed by an Australian doctor or panel of medical experts.
“Recent infection with SARS-CoV-2 confirmed by PCR (after July 31, 2021), where vaccination may be postponed for up to six months after infection,” he said. “If you fall into this category, please provide the laboratory PCR result of the first positive test, antibody levels if available, and evidence of any previous or subsequent vaccination, if applicable.
“The current ATAGI guidelines for those who have had a recent Covid infection should be vaccinated once you have recovered from the acute illness.
“It may also help the independent panel if you can provide a letter from your doctor or public health authority explaining why you have not received a full dose of an approved vaccine following COVID infection. -19. “
The letter was sent after Mr Hunt wrote to TA CEO Craig Tiley in late November telling him that a recent infection would not grant players an exemption.
“The Australian Border Force has advised that people need to be fully vaccinated, as defined by ATAGI (the National Vaccine Advisory Body) to gain entry without quarantine into Australia,” Mr Hunt wrote.
“Regarding your specific questions, I can confirm that people who have contracted Covid-19 in the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a vaccine approved or recognized by the Therapeutic Goods Administration are not considered. fully vaccinated.
Mr Hunt specifically reiterated to Mr Tiley that “major sporting events” are at the mercy of “competent jurisdiction” and that Tennis Australia should ensure that they work alongside those in charge of the Australian border forces to ensure that they are ensure players are eligible to participate.
“We encourage travelers to consult the requirements of the state or territory in which they wish to participate to participate in the Australian Open and the preliminary summer series events, to ensure that they can meet the relevant entry requirements, ”he wrote.
“I encourage sports organizations, including Tennis Australia, to continue to work with the Australian Border Force, state and territory health authorities and venues on safe event plans for Covid, including for international travel. when relevant. “
It is not known whether Mr Tiley communicated this to Djokovic or his team before the Serbian attempted to enter the country.
Tennis Australia, which has yet to release a statement on Djokovic’s expulsion, has been contacted for comment.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison blamed the Djokovic fiasco squarely on Tennis Australia.
“Tennis Australia has said he can play and that’s good, that’s their call, but we’re calling at the border,” Mr Morrison said Thursday. “The rules are made known to all travelers.
“They get on a plane based on their own opinion that they’ll be able to meet these requirements and if they can’t, well, they can’t come. This is how the rules work.
“When you get people making public statements about what they say they have, what they are going to do and what their demands are, they bring a lot of attention to themselves.
“Anyone who does that, well, he can expect to be asked more questions than the rest. This is how the Border Force works. They are not singled out at all.