Organizers of the Australian Open said that they had decided against allowing players with unvaccinated children to compete in the tournament following a decision by the state government to ban the practice.
“All players and all children entering the tournament have to be fully immunized against all infectious diseases,” a spokesperson for the Australian Open told ESPN. “All unvaccinated children have been removed from the draw, and any under-11 players who haven’t had measles vaccinations have also been removed from the draw.”
The announcement came following a meeting of the Victorian government’s health committee, which recommended that parents who refuse to immunize their children do so only if there are “exceptional circumstances.” The Victorian government also advised any parent or guardian of unvaccinated children to have a vaccination certificate on hand at all times, even for children who had been vaccinated.
A spokesperson for Tennis Australia, the governing body of tennis in Australia, said that the exemption for unvaccinated children — up to two children can play on a team for every player — would remain in place.
But it is the decision by the government in Victoria, which is near Melbourne, to implement a policy on school-aged children that the opposition Liberal Party has said it will repeal.
The decision has attracted national attention, as Anne Arundel, a pediatrician and a former director of the hospital where television personality and pediatrician John Goodman is a pediatrician, explained.
“Today’s development is a small step forward — however this is the first time that any state in Australia has legislated this,” Arundel told People magazine. “Often the public fails to recognize that the measures governments take are mainly designed to save lives, and allowing for an exemption that enables the child to compete and the costs of travel of a grand slam should be viewed as a small price to pay.”
The decision does not, however, mean that the practice of allowing children to participate in tournaments will cease entirely.
“Grand slams have exemptions for kids because they want a competitive team environment and they still are kids and that’s why you’re allowed to compete for big events. There’s not going to be any rule change that prohibits or stops kids from being eligible to go to a slam,”, but Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews is now hoping to change that. “Of course you have to have specialists,” he told Sky News, “but you also have to look at the potential disease risks, and in the other corners of Australia they have a totally different approach. They don’t have these exemptions, they have already acted.”