Tennis players competing at the Australian Open this month will be able to take part if they test positive for Covid-19, a major departure from the tournament's strict policies of the past two years that saw crowds banned from matches.

2021 Australian Open: Day 3

Even if a player tests positive for Covid, they can still play in the Australian Open.

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According to multiple news outlets, Australian Open players will not have to take the Covid-19 tests in order to play in the tournament.

Tiley said that athletes can play even if they test positive for the virus if they decide to test.

Tennis Australia's chief executive, Tiley, urged players who felt unwell to stay at home, a recommendation that applies to more than 12,000 staff.

The policy shift is similar to policies for other sports in that it reflects what is happening in the broader community.

The tennis chief said navigating the challenges of the virus is a normalized environment for us, and that there could be players that will compete with Covid.

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The decision to allow untested, and even Covid- positive, players to compete in the Australian Open is a major policy shift from the tournament's strict requirements last year. The strict rules, which also saw fans locked out of matches to contain an outbreak, meant Novak Djokovic, the returning champion and an open skeptic of Covid vaccines, was deported and couldn't defend his title. Australia has been implementing some of the toughest Covid curbs in the world in the past. The country restricted internal movement and almost completely closed its borders for two years, trapping tens of thousands of Australians in other countries.

What We Don’t Know

The first Grand Slam tennis tournament is held in Australia. The French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open have yet to announce rules. The players were required to take some form of testing last year. National guidance on what happens if a player tests positive affects the rules on what happens. Only France has mandatory isolation requirements for people who test positive for Covid.

In theory, the different vaccine requirements for each Grand Slam country could lead to a situation where a Covid positive athlete can compete in a tournament while an unvaccinated one cannot. The French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open didn't require players to be vaccine free in 2021. The policy is still in effect. The U.S. doesn't have a binding isolation requirement for those who test positive for Covid, so if a player with Covid is unvaccinated, they can play.

What To Watch For

Unvaccinated players will not be able to compete in upcoming Miami Open and Indian Wells tournaments due to the U.S. policy requiring international arrivals to be vaccinations. By the time the U.S. Open starts in August, it is not clear if this rule will have been loosened.

Due to the U.S. Covid Vaccine Mandate, it's likely that Novak will miss the Indian Wells and Miami Opens.

Live updates on the coronaviruses.