Paire unconcerned if unvaccinated don’t play Australian Open
France’s world number 47 Benoit Paire says he does not care that unvaccinated players are unlikely to be able to play in the Australian Open in January, and thinks it could work out to his advantage.
Tennis Australia is still negotiating the rules that will govern player access to Australia with government officials, but the prospects look bleak for any players unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Although the Federal government has said they can enter the country if they have an exemption and undergo 14 days of quarantine, Victoria’s state premier last week ruled out applying for exemptions for anyone without a double dose.
Paire, who endured 14 days of hard quarantine ahead of the 2021 edition of the Melbourne Park tournament, said he was unconcerned.
“There is no quarantine anymore in Melbourne if you’re vaccinated. Those that are not vaccinated, I don’t care about them. If they don’t play, all the better for me,” he told reporters after losing in the first round of the Paris Masters on Monday.
“I don’t care about the other players. I’m motivated to have a great season next year. If there are some people who are reluctant to get vaccinated, then they should stay in Europe.
“It’s not my problem. You have to be vaccinated to go to Australia. I am vaccinated and I’m looking forward to playing there.”
Defending champion Novak Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev are among those who have expressed doubt about competing and declined to share their vaccination status.
There was better news for organizers on Monday when 2009 champion Rafa Nadal, who has publicly backed vaccination, said he was hoping to play at Melbourne Park.
Paire said there had been talk during the U.S. Open earlier this year of an Australian Open boycott if vaccinations were mandated, but he suspected most players would want to be at the season-opening Grand Slam.
“At the U.S. Open, everybody was saying that they were going to go on a strike, that they said that they shouldn’t get vaccinated to go to Australia, that they were not going to play,” he said.
“But when the season starts again, everybody wants to play.”