Unvaccinated players will seemingly be allowed to compete at next year's Australian Open after all.
An email from Tennis Australia [TA] to the WTA Players' Council, obtained by tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg, has revealed unvaccinated players will however be required to complete 14 days' hard quarantine in a hotel.
The memo asked players to "please keep this information confidential until the government makes an official announcement".
🐨Update on #AusOpen🐨— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) October 24, 2021
Per email sent to WTA players just now, Tennis Australia has told WTA PC that fully vaccinated players won't be required to quarantine or bubble at all.
Unvaccinated players will be allowed to enter, TA tells WTA, but must do 14 days of hotel quarantine. pic.twitter.com/cu4NV8abYB
Government leaders only last week insisted the world's tennis stars needed to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to take part in the Open, casting doubt on Novak Djokovic's participation at the Melbourne Park major.
Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal whether he has received a jab, having also previously expressed hope the vaccine would not become mandatory for players on the ATP circuit.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last Tuesday said unvaccinated sports stars would be unlikely to receive a visa, while federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Wednesday confirmed there was no prospect of travel rules being relaxed for incoming tennis players.
"Not at this time. Our health advice is that when we open the borders, everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double vaccinated," Hawke told ABC Radio.
But it appears the Victorian and federal governments have both completed an about face.
"We feel the need to reach out to you all to clear up false and misleading information that has recently been spread by other parties about the conditions that players will be forced to endure at next year's Australian Open," the email starts.
"We have been communicating regularly with Craig (Tiley) and the Tennis Australia team in recent months and they shared some good news with us on our Players' Council call last Friday so that you know the facts and are not confused by rumors that have been circulating.
"Tennis Australia had asked us to wait a few days as they were still working with the government on the details.
"Because Victoria's vaccination rate will hit 80% at the end of the week and 90% next month, it has been confirmed that conditions for the players at the Australian Open will improve significantly."
The email said fully-vaccinated players can arrive in Australia from December 1 and are not required to stay in quarantine or any training bubble as they did this year.
But in addition to unvaccinated players needing to quarantine, they will be subjected to regular COVID-19 testing.
TA was expected to provide further comment later on Monday.
Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula on Monday morning maintained nothing was set in stone.
"I don't want to put the cart before the horse," Mr Pakula told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
"We're still talking to the feds and that will play out over the next two or three weeks.
"And it will be done in plenty of time for all of the players to know what the requirements are and for those who aren't vaccinated to get vaccinated.
"We are still resolved with Tennis Australia and the Commonwealth the question of whether unvaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed into Australia at all and, if so, under what circumstances."