Melbourne: Players at this month’s Australian Open will not be required to take COVID-19 tests and could play even if they had the virus, tournament director Craig Tiley said on Monday.
The health policy, which Tiley said reflected what was happening in the wider community, is a marked change from strict protocols which surrounded the tournament over the past two years.
The 2021 tournament took place in a biosecure bubble with spectators shut out for several days after an outbreak of the virus in the community, while last year nine-times champion Novak Djokovic was deported because of his stance on vaccines.
“We just wanted to follow what’s currently in the community,” Tiley told reporters at Melbourne Park.
“We have gone a step further by making a recommendation around staying away when you’re ill, and that our medical staff will continue to monitor that, with the players individually as well.”
Cricketer Matt Renshaw continued to play for Australia in a five-day Test match against South Africa in Sydney last week despite testing positive for COVID.
The batsman was isolated from his team mates for the first three days of the match but returned to the home dressing room after several negative tests.
“We’ve made it clear to our players, as well as our staff, if anyone is feeling unwell, stay home,” Tiley added.
“It’s a normalised environment for us and, not dissimilar to the cricket, there will potentially be players that will compete with COVID.”
Melbourne endured some of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world at the height of the pandemic but recommendations have long since replaced mandates as the cornerstone of public health policy in the city.