Thu, 01 Jun 2023

CANBERRA, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Sports Minister has announced that the professional surfing stars who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 stand "no chance of getting into the country."

Richard Colbeck said Wednesday that everyone traveling to Australia for World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) events in Victoria and Western Australia in May will have to be fully inoculated against COVID-19 or prove a contraindication to the vaccine to receive a medical exemption.

With the WSL CT set to start on January 29 in Hawaii, two of the sport's biggest male stars - 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and world number one Gabriel Medina - have not disclosed their vaccination status.

Slater earlier in January condemned the Australian Government's decision to deport tennis world number one Novak Djokovic, writing on social media that there was "so much brainwashed hatred in people's hearts regardless of vax status."

Colbeck told Nine Entertainment newspapers he was aware of Slater's comments but that the 49-year-old would not receive any special treatment.

"I reckon he knows the rules. 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," he said.

The WSL has ruled out mandating vaccines for surfers, but Asia-Pacific general manager Andrew Stark said the sport would "stringently follow the set government entry guidelines of each country we visit for our events."

"We encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated and have advised everyone associated with the WSL that unvaccinated individuals may face significant challenges as they travel around the world and may be prohibited from entering certain countries," he said.

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