Australian Open 2017: Rules not changed to allow unvaccinated players, says organiser

Australian Open organisers also rejected an ‘open invitation’ to enter players who have not had their childhood vaccinations.

Australian Open organisers have rejected a request to change tournament rules to allow unvaccinated players in the 2017 tournament.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said he received “misinformation” about the sport being unsafe.

Australian umpire David O’Meara was quoted by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera as saying he did not have his childhood vaccinations, adding: “I think it’s a good idea for me not to show up.”

The man at the centre of the sexism row about the comment said he was misinterpreted.

“It’s obviously quite a sensitive topic and I admit I should have been a little more diplomatic in my remarks,” he said.

O’Meara, 40, is on the ATP’s anti-racism committee and said his comments could be seen as “apology from [being] a victim of a racist comment” in the country which has experienced racial unrest and unrest since the execution of Melbourne teenager Yacqub Khayre in 2015.

Tiley said he believed O’Meara’s words had been “misrepresented”.

“While I understand his frustrations, I’m not in a position to justify how he justifies choosing not to get his childhood vaccinations, and we don’t believe the general public should be promoting the idea that unvaccinated children are healthy or safe,” Tiley added.

“His comments were absolutely not in support of the Australian Open, our tournament or the sports fans that flock to see the world’s best athletes on the court and in the stands.

“I would like to respond to the genuine questions and concerns raised in the media this week. Firstly, the percentage of people who do not have regular immunisations for infectious diseases such as measles are extremely low. It’s a fact that every year in Australia at least 1 in 10 children become unvaccinated or under vaccinated.

“Secondly, the Australian Open does not have any specific anti-vaccination policies in place, and at no stage have we entertained such a discussion on our tournament council or at our annual meeting.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency added to the controversy when the Wada president, Sir Craig Reedie, said some countries had not conducted fully random tests for particular groups of athletes.

But he said this was a contradiction in the rulebook and said random tests were not used in tennis because those countries were usually UK-based.

Tennis Australia agreed that testing was not random. It said Serb Novak Djokovic, the world number one, receives nine random tests per month in tennis.

“Tennis Australia works very closely with the national anti-doping agency at the sport’s national anti-doping regime and has a robust policy in place,” it said.

“Following Dr Reedie’s claims today, we would like to provide a brief response to him.”

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