The Australian Open, which happens to be held in January, is apparently open to a boycott due to the Northern Territory’s opposition to a law mandating vaccinations.
In order to play in the tournament, five players would have to request exemptions.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said, “If those five athletes don’t want to play the Australian Open because they haven’t been vaccinated, they shouldn’t be allowed to. There should be a compassionate and clear explanation of why they couldn’t.”
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The push comes on the eve of a “vaccine boycott” protest. Calling themselves “Always Speak Out,” the group plans to leave anti-vaccination toys at the doors of five Sydney, Australia schools at 10:30 a.m. (GMT). The toy, known as a “natural vaccine blocker,” or NFB, was developed to prevent diseases like whooping cough. According to the group, children can have up to ten NFB vaccinations, versus the single vaccinations they have today.
The NextGen initiative also asks the children at their rallies not to wear their shirts or shirts with logos or advertisements during play.
However, state governments are now failing in their duty to protect the welfare of children. Ian Costello, chief executive of the National Vaccination Network, said the initiative is hurtful to parents who do believe in the importance of vaccinations, but “understand that they are putting their children in harm’s way by not vaccinating.”
William Armitage, a Northern Territory public health director, said he was concerned about claims of a measles outbreak happening in the region. “We do have a growing concern about imported measles…we do have an existing measles outbreak in the area, but we’ve not seen any evidence of people coming through.”
Hunt did not comment on whether the Australian Open would use the NFB, but said it was a matter between the players and the tournament’s organizers. He said, “The majority of Australian adults and children are vaccinated. And if anyone doubts that, then I would encourage them to go to the over-30s clinics in Melbourne.”