Inquiry into Australian Open decision fails to confirm quarantine

• Court later issued ‘disclaimer’ about incident • GWS star Josh Kelly had not cleared vaccination after flu virus

Inquiry into Australian Open decision fails to confirm quarantine

The Australian Open has defended its quarantine decision which bars players who had not vaccinated against a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus, while a social media backlash has seen one coach accuse tournament officials of “a few fit to be tied”.

All players attending the Australian Open this year will be banned from competing until they have been vaccinated against the Southern Varicella (Prue) virus, usually found in dogs.

The tournament warned the players on Saturday that they would be cut from the main draw if they refused. The move, to protect the tournament and the public from potential infections, infuriated parents of children who attend the event.

The tournament’s medical director, Stephen Sherry, did not dispute the policy, but said the directive was designed to protect the public.

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“The national health authorities have said we should do this,” he told Associated Press on Monday. “The health authorities don’t want anybody coming with a viral infection, certainly in the first week.”

“We’re not trying to restrict anyone,” he added. “It is what it is and it’s not something we would have done if we had evidence to the contrary.”

Melbourne’s federal court ruled on Tuesday that those taking part in the tournament should be given clarification on the policy, with a two-day deadline for both sides to present submissions, but did not force either side to clarify it.

“I was really perturbed by the way the decision was made,” the coach of a player taking part in the Australian Open said. “I think it’s a bit draconian. I’m not saying it’s right, but it does look a bit draconian.”

Mick Eardley, representing the Australian Tennis Association (ATA), said its decision to ban players who had not had their vaccinations in time for the event was not a disputable issue.

“It is evident that the players are ignorant of the virus and are not willing to abide by the quarantine,” he said in his submission to the court.

The coach said he was concerned that the exclusion of players had already affected the ranking of his player, who was forced to withdraw from her match against Petra Martic of Croatia on Tuesday.

The GWS Giants rugby league star Josh Kelly is believed to be one of several players affected by the decision, but reports say he had not been cleared to play.

Kelly is the grandson of Margaret Court, one of the most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage. Court told News Corp she had decided not to comment on the incident.

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