The president of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, said players have to be vaccinated against norovirus if they wish to compete in the forthcoming grand slam events, including the Australian Open.
Speaking on Sydney’s 2GB Radio Tuesday, Tiley indicated that all players should be vaccinated, regardless of whether they were affected by norovirus, which is highly contagious and can be contracted from teammates.
“I think obviously you’ve got to respect how important this is, the players deserve to be in their communities, so hopefully no players get a bad virus,” Tiley said.
“It [vacationing] is an option, but we really don’t think that’s the right thing to do, no matter what the circumstances are. And once you’ve had the chance to get that virus the chances of getting a nasty virus and playing through it — I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”
The head of a tour body called the Professional Tennis Association was quick to warn against anything that resembled forced vaccination or forced quarantine.
“We are nowhere near giving in to anyone who thinks they’re right,” PSKA chief executive Jeffrey Borget said. “Let’s be very clear what can be played in the Grand Slams. Players may have been on holiday but when they get into the tournament they should be as healthy as they can be —that is safe, that is professional. That is what the players, federations and tournaments want to see.”
The person who did as best as she could to protect players from the norovirus was Nick Kyrgios, who in 2014 contracted the virus after playing at the Australian Open, then a semi-finalist, and ended up withdrawing from the following day’s competition.
Kyrgios initially chose to cancel his scheduled news conference after his quarterfinal defeat, but after some doubt returned to the media stage, still not in the best of physical condition.
Afterwards, a bemused media questioned the Australian, who, in the words of the New York Times, “literally raced through the questions,” as he explained his ill health. He gave no indication as to why he was so ill, but many outlets noted that he needed a medical release before he could start to train again in Melbourne.
There were fears, following a quarterfinal loss to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne that Kyrgios had contracted norovirus while he was away on vacation. Two months later, he withdrew from a tournament in Marseille.
It took another six months before Kyrgios was able to resume his competitive tennis. He won only five matches in those six months — it wasn’t until his fourth career title, at the Queen’s Club grasscourt tournament, that he was capable of being in a headline draw. He then played back-to-back matches in a tournament in Hamburg and won them both.
The 27-year-old returns to the Australian Open in Melbourne on Jan. 15 — the first grand slam of the season — looking to win a first major trophy. This year’s event will be played at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic — who will be making his final appearance before retirement — beat Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final, one of the early grand slam matches played after the start of the new calendar year. The world No. 1 then lost in the U.S. Open final to Marin Cilic, who went on to triumph at the U.S. Open — but that has not been seen as bad news by the Big Four of the ATP Tour — Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray. The Tour’s top four players are very likely to dominate the front pages of 2017.
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