Why Can Unvaccinated Swimmers Compete in Australia When Novak Djokovic Couldn’t?

Australia’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions last month paved the way for unvaccinated American swimmer Michael Andrew to compete at the 2022 Duel in the Pool, which begins Friday morning (Thursday night in the U.S.) in Sydney

Earlier this year in January, then-top-ranked tennis star Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia after landing in the country for the 2022 Australian Open. The Serbian’s visa was voided due to his vaccination status. But the Australian government recently changed its policy in July, no longer requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative test to enter the country. 

“The Australian government makes decisions on Covid related issues after considering the latest medical advice,” said Mark Butler, Australia’s Minister for Health and Aged Care. “The Chief Medical Officer has advised it is no longer necessary for travelers to declare their vaccine status as part of our management of Covid. Unvaccinated Australians, as well as certain groups of visa holders, have been able to travel to Australia for some time. We will continue to act on the medical advice as needed.”

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed suit by relaxing rules regarding social distancing and quarantine, issuing the same recommendations regardless of vaccination status. For now, those rules are only for U.S. citizens, but new guidelines for international travelers are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. With the U.S. Open just 11 days away and tournament officials already clarifying they will not offer special treatment, Djokovic’s last hopes of playing the final tennis major of the year lie in a last-minute CDC update. 

“Prior infection and vaccination confer some protection against severe illness, and so it really makes the most sense to not differentiate with our guidance or our recommendations based on vaccination status at this time,” said CDC scientist Dr. Greta Massetti. “In the coming weeks, the CDC will work to align stand-alone guidance documents, such as those for healthcare settings, congregate settings at higher risk of transmission, and travel, with today’s update.”

Andrew, meanwhile, has remained steadfast in his decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine. Before last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, he told reporters that he was worried about missing training time due to a potential reaction to the vaccine. Andrew stirred up more controversy in Tokyo when he refused to wear a mask in the mixed zone. The 23-year-old later said he received “death threats” and “evil messages” in response. 

“Everybody was walking through the mixed zone without a mask,” Andrew said on the Inside with Brett Hawke podcast in January. “I was so targeted because of who I was and what I said.

“Vaccinated athletes are still testing positive just as much, if not more, than the unvaccinated,” he added. “I just recognize that I don’t really need it. It’s not that I’m anti-any vaccine; I’ve gotten vaccines from when I was young.”

It is unknown how many other members of the US team competing at the Duel in the Pool are unvaccinated.

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1 year ago

He is not banned from the US Open. He is unable to enter the US as he refuses to meet current US government guidelines for foreigners entering the country..

1 year ago

They are afraid of him to get the most Grand slams ever by a individual player.

Reply to  NathenDrake
1 year ago

He would need to win three more Grand Slam singles titles to even equal the most ever won by an individual player (Margaret Court).

Old Bruin
1 year ago

The only thing that could make this article better is if it was titled “Why Can Unvaccinated Swimmers Compete in Australia When Novak Djokovic (and SANTO CONDORELLI!!) Couldn’t”. And then we could talk about everyone’s other favorite swimmer Santo and debate the virtues of nationality as well as vaccinations

Steve Nolan
1 year ago

Right, I guess it could technically be answering a question people might have – the Djokovic thing was pretty high-profile at the time – but it does just feel like chum to get us all to yell about MA.

Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing the reflection of a simpleton conservative male. That’s too gruesome to contemplate. The mindset lends to free flowing ignorance far beyond this topic.

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

Why did you write this?

Eric Simpson
Reply to  Eagleswim
1 year ago

I Experience the Truth Within me…the ONLY place where Truth Exists. When I observe the Truth being manifest in the world through Action, I acknowledge it.

1 year ago

This was a conspiracy by swimming-crazy Australia to make sure MA could swin at the meet. Otherwise how do you explain the convenient timing of the rule change?

Reply to  DLSwim
1 year ago

The Aussies actually looked at the science. It was fortuitous timing for MA.

Reply to  Hank
1 year ago

They were looking at the science when Novak entered the country also. Remember his exemption was granted after being reviewed by two separate medical boards. They only canceled his visa after public outcry from fans who never appreciated him. And even after they deported him they admitted that he did have a valid medical exemption and was not a threat to public safety.

1 year ago

The latest CDC guidance is recognizing natural immunity in which MA has. So let’s end this target on SwimSwam please

1 year ago

Older people often develop immune disorders. Do you have any studies to show that older people who are vaccinated are developing immune disorders at a statistically significantly higher rate than the unvaccinated?

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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