Teenage Australian tennis star turns down Covid jab, won’t play Australian Open
Australia’s top-ranked teenage tennis player won’t be competing at next month’s Australian Open because she doesn’t want to get the Covid-19 shot.
Olivia Gadecki, who upset Open 2020 champion Sofia Kenin in Melbourne in February, is one of the country’s brightest young hopefuls.
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The 19-year-old was unranked at the start of the year, but has climbed to 237 in the women’s standings and would have been a strong wildcard contender for the main draw.
Gadecki, who works with former Sam Stosur coach David Taylor, was welcomed to Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup squad in November as a sign of his notoriety.
But she did not take part in the grand slam tournament, with strict rules stipulating that all competing players must be fully immunized.
News Corp Australia contacted Tennis Australia about Gadecki’s situation on Wednesday, but a spokesperson was unable to comment due to confidentiality concerns.
Sources close to Gadecki’s decision questioned whether the teenager realized the profound implications of her decision. It is believed that his position is influenced by the family.
The French Pierre-Hugues Herbert will not make the trip to Australia either because he too is not vaccinated and there will probably be a handful of others in the same situation.
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley revealed last week that the vaccination rate among those planning to play at Melbourne Park had risen from around 50% to over 95%.
Tiley has said on several occasions lately that players must have a double dose of an approved vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson alternative.
They can apply for a medical exemption like anyone else, but exemptions are rare – and Victorian Prime Minister Dan Andrews wants Tennis Australia to look into one of those cases among world tennis stars.
Australian tennis great Sam Stosur told News Corp on Monday that she sympathizes with those who do not want to be vaccinated, but said warrants were the best way forward.
Herbert and Stosur believe that it will become increasingly difficult to be a professional tennis player for those who choose not to be vaccinated.
“I can absolutely see where the others are coming from, but if we’re going to go on and have (any sort of normal life), unfortunately that’s just the position we’re in,” Stosur said.
“If the warrant is coming across the country, why should a sporting event be any different?
“We have to do what we have to do to try to move on, and if we can do it well and safely so that we can still enjoy the social aspects of sporting events (it’s worth this).”
Carlton’s Liam Jones retired from the AFL in November because he did not want to get the shot, while AFLW players Georgia Patrikios and Deni Varnhagen are expected to be absent next season for the same reason.