The Australian Open, the only Grand Slam tournament in the world that allows players who are unvaccinated to compete, has lifted its quarantine after a rash of publicity over the issue. In February, players who hadn’t had their first dose of the four-shot measles vaccine were banned from the women’s tournament.
The Australian Open said Monday that fans, volunteers and officials were able to enter the grounds at Melbourne Park on Wednesday for the start of the tournament, which is scheduled to start on Monday.
Although it’s legal to bring unvaccinated children to the Open, women like Samantha Stosur, the second-ranked player in the world, are often unaware that they are also unvaccinated. For Samantha’s father, Mark, an unvaccinated 2-year-old, an Australian Open run was always a possibility. It would be his daughter’s dream come true.
“The story of the Australian Open not banning you has not gone down well,” Samantha told ABC Online on Monday. “Well, obviously, it has, and I just hope everyone understands that I don’t have a choice. We are here to represent Australia and live a healthy lifestyle and we are not fully vaccinated and to see other teams that have an unvaccinated player in the Australian Open [fans] going nuts, it’s just not right.”
There are roughly 1,000 unvaccinated players among the 3,100 entrants at the Australian Open.
The Australian Open ban was in place after the World Health Organization declared measles a global emergency in the lead-up to the tournament. A young woman, Ellie Saunders, traveled to Melbourne Park to look for work, but ended up falling seriously ill. She now faces paralysis after doctors found high levels of one of the measles virus’ key ingredients, and the virus has spread to several people traveling in and out of the tournament.
“I’m pretty glad they are removing the quarantine,” Ellie told reporters, according to The Guardian. “It means I can play tennis on Monday. … I’m still in a lot of pain. The swelling in my legs is still quite bad. I’m still breathing with the help of a mask.”
Despite the tournament’s reportedly weakened security measures, the organizers told the Australian Associated Press they had not been disrupted and had received pledges of support.