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The Commonwealth Games has not ruled out introducing a mandatory vaccination policy for athletes participating in the event in Birmingham this summer.
Organisers of the major sporting competition are “working closely with health experts” to assess whether the July and August event should implement a similar policy to the Australian Open, which has required that all participants must be vaccinated unless they have an approved medical exemption.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games is not currently mandating athletes to prove their vaccination status. However, under current national Covid regulations, spectators would be required to prove that they are fully jabbed, or present a negative lateral flow test to attend large sporting events of this sort.
“With seven months to go until the Commonwealth Games, we are working closely with health experts and national authorities to monitor the situation in the UK and across the world,” a spokesperson for the event told PoliticsHome today.
“We continue to develop our policies for Birmingham 2022 and look forward to a safe, secure and spectacular Games for the Commonwealth this summer.”
Today Australian authorites delayed a visa application for tennis champion Novak Djokavic, who is due to compete in the Australian Open. Djokavic has refused to publicly reveal his vaccination status, but in a social media post last year the world number one stated his opposition to being jabbed.
“Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced to take a vaccine in order to travel,” Djokovic said.
Tournament organisers have faced criticism over a decision to allow Djokavic a medical exemption to compete in the tournament.
The tennis star is currently being held at Melbourne airport after border security found an issue with his visa application. However, separate to the specific issue of his visa, swathes of Australian residents have expressed fury at Tennis Australia’s independent decision to allow Djokovic to compete.
Melbourne, where the tournament is held, underwent the world’s longest consecutive lockdown last year as part of the Victorian state government’s strict effort to control the spread of Covid.
Residents in the city are also required to prove they have been fully jabbed in order to sit in cafes and restaurants.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Powell has not specifically ruled out supporting a mandatory vaccine policy for Commonwealth Games athletes, but isn’t explicitly advocating for the idea either.
“Unvaccinated athletes should be treated the same as anyone else entering the country without a vaccine and adhere to the travel rules in place at the time,” Powell told PoliticsHome.
“The Commonwealth Games will showcase the best of Britain. Yet with the uncertainty of Covid, it’s vital that Ministers do all they can to plan for a successful and safe Commonwealth games.
“That’s why it’s vital for Boris Johnson to keep his G7 promise for the U.K. to play its part in vaccinating the entire world by the end of this year.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been contacted for comment.
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