Vaccination requirement means F1 should avoid Djokovic drama at Australian GP

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A mandatory requirement for Covid-19 vaccinations means Formula 1 is unlikely to face a situation similar to Novak Djokovic's current visa fight at this year's Australian Grand Prix.

Though rules differ from state to state, with Daniel Ricciardo completing a 14-day period in quarantine upon arrival in his home city of Perth in Western Australia over Christmas, full vaccination is the only way for foreign visitors to be guaranteed an entry visa into the country.

But last week, the Serbian tennis star, who is unvaccinated, received a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne, only to have his visa revoked upon arrival at the airport.

Then on Monday, after several days in an immigration detention hotel, Djokovic had his visa cancellation overturned by a judge seemingly clearing the way for his participation in the tournament.

However, it is understood the fight isn't over yet with Australian government officials looking at ways to cancel his visa again.

All of this raises questions about future sporting events in the country, in particular, the F1 Grand Prix set for April 8-10.

Commenting on the requirements for entry late last year, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said...

“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player will get a visa to come into this country, and if they did get a visa, they would probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t think any other tennis player or golfer or Formula 1 driver will even get a visa to get here.

“If I’m wrong, I’m sure the federal government will let you know, but you need to be vaccinated to keep yourself safe and to keep others safe.”

Towards the end of last year, amid the emergence of the Omicron variant, F1 did see a rise in cases, with Nikita Mazepin missing the season finale in Abu Dhabi and Charles Leclerc testing positive upon returning home to Monaco.

Leclerc Mazepin

But it appears unlikely the sport will have a repeat of the Djokovic situation in Australia after the FIA World Motor Sport Council made Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all personnel in 2022.

“There are many issues to discuss with the teams,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali. “We will have the problem of COVID to manage again next year and it will not be easy.

"But two years into the pandemic, we have completed some super-intense seasons and it makes us cautiously optimistic for what the start of the 2022 season should be like, where alas COVID may still be present.

“But it is no coincidence that one of the last things approved in the last FIA World Council, as a precaution, is to have all F1 staff vaccinated to be in the paddock.”