With the deportation of World No.1 tennis ace Novak Djokovic last week, eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater has been banned from competing in Australia under a ‘rules are rules’ direction.
“I reckon he knows the rules,” said Australia’s Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a surfer, or a tennis player, a tourist or anyone else, those are the rules. They apply to everyone. I don’t like the chances of him competing in Victoria, and I’d hate to think of what the chances were of him competing in Western Australia.”
The American surfer has not declared his vaccination status, but like Djokovic, he has been prominent online in his criticism of vaccine mandates.
It means that he almost certainly will not be competing in the Rip Curl Pro and Margaret River Pro in April 2022.
“If I know the risks and I judge the choice to be one that benefits/hurts me based on stats and info and my own ability, I can choose accordingly. For people saying ‘listen to the doctors’, I’m positive I know more about being healthy than 99 per cent of doctors, but I wouldn’t trust me. But most of my Covid info comes directly from doctor friends, many of them in disagreement with the official ‘science’.”
The Australian government has a blanket rule on international arrivals, insisting that they all present proof of Covid vaccination.
This regulation has been put in place in the interest of ‘public safety’ despite Omicron entering Australia via fully-vaccinated travellers. The current outbreak inside most states is being spread among everyone, regardless of vaccination status, as reflected by infection rates in state health data.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last year that vaccination was a voluntary – not compulsory – choice.
Gabriel Medina, the current champion from Brazil, has also refused to declare his vaccination status and may be prevented from competing.