CANBERRA: Elite tennis players should get vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk missing the Australian Open in January, Australian officials said Wednesday.
Some players, including men's No.1 Novak Djokovic, have advocated that the decision to get the vaccine should be a personal choice.
But Australia's health minister Greg Hunt said the rules were straightforward: everyone arriving in the country needed to be double-vaccinated.
"Our rules are very clear, they apply to everyone without fear or favour," he said.
"It doesn't matter whether you are number one (tennis player) in the world or anything else, our rules are about protecting Australians and they apply to everybody."
Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open title a record nine times and shares the men's Grand Slam record of 20 titles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, hasn't confirmed whether he has been vaccinated for COVID-19.
If he doesn't get vaccinated, he risks missing the tournament he has won for the last three years.
Asked if he had a message for Djokovic, Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke indicated that tennis stars would have to follow the same rules as anyone else.
"I don't have a message to Novak, I have a message to everybody that wishes to visit Australia: you'll need to be double vaccinated," he said.
Ahead of the Australian Open earlier this year, all players had to quarantine for two weeks and be regularly tested under Australia's strict regulations on COVID-19 measures.
Most were allowed a limited time to practise, but any who tested positive or we deemed to be close contacts of a positive case which in some cases meant simply being on the same charter flight had to do a hard lockdown.
Those players weren't allowed to leave their hotel rooms.
There are plans to have crowds at the Australian Open.