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No COVID exemptions for F1 in Australia


There will be no repeats of the Novak Djokovic saga when F1 visits Melbourne in April, as organisers make clear there will be no exemptions.

Even if you don't have the slightest interest in Tennis - and that will certainly change once Netflix gets hold of the sport - over the last few weeks you will have been aware of the Novak Djokovic saga in Australia.

The world number one has spent almost the last month in a headline-grabbing battle with the Australian authorities after he entered the country, in order to compete in the Australian Open in Melbourne despite not being vaccinated.

Over the weeks that followed his visa was revoked, a decision subsequently overturned only for the Serbian to be deported after his visa was revoked once again.

Wanting no repeat of the sorry saga, over two months ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, organisers have warned that all personnel attending the Albert Park race must be fully vaccinated, making clear that there will be no exceptions.

"There's a set of agreed protocols and processes, but it's all predicated on two simple provisos," says Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott, according to, "that the contingent is 100 percent vaccinated. There will not be any exemptions sought or issued.

"They will then come into the country and operate in a manner that Formula 1 has consistently operated in," he added.

With F1 already embroiled in the Abu Dhabi saga, Westacott admits that the last thing the sport needs is another, Djokovic-style, scandal.

"You've got to look at it from a continuity perspective. "They will still have their rules about the paddock, you don't get into the paddock unless you test negative, you don't get into the venue, the paddock, the circuit, or the country unless you're fully vaccinated.

"So there'll be the operating regime, and what they've proven is that they have a very sensible operational arrangement to make sure that they've got continuity in their teams.

"We've seen it with 'Big Bash' teams, we've seen it with the English and Australian cricket teams, and we've seen it with AFL football squads, that you can't afford to have many of your team taken out because of COVID.

"Formula 1, they're a precision-based business, and as a precision-based business they go about continuity and contingency planning and back-ups and scenarios as part of their business operations. That's why it's so accurate in everything they do, and that's why it's a cutting-edge sport.

"Formula 1 has recognised around the world that they always need to comply with the rules at the borders for the jurisdictions in which they race. They've raced in 41 locations since Melbourne in 2020 and we're going to be welcoming them into the country. The know the rules and we're very, very comfortable with that.

"I think it goes without saying they will be a 100 percent vaccination and compliant with the laws. And that means when they come here to Melbourne they're going to be operating in a very, very safe regime. That's an underlined, defined position.

"Our arrangements have been in place well before the recent goings on with the Australian Open. We've worked very closely with the federal government, the state government, Formula 1 and the FIA for probably a year and a half on this."

Westacott is also adamant that the race is not at risk and certainly there will be no repeats of the 2020 scandal when race fans were notified of the event's cancellation as they waited outside the circuit gates for entry.

"Fans can be guaranteed that that won't be happening again," he said. "We're confident that we will deliver. We've seen what's happening in Australia, I can't remember when a major event was now recently cancelled.

"We're staging this event. But we may have to do so with different mitigation requirements. Now we'll work with the Victorian government on those mitigation requirements. But the really important thing is that people should feel confident to come out and purchase tickets.

"I'll go on record and say, there is zero chance of cancellation," he insisted. "We're going to start building the track on the first of February."

However, with an eye on the Omicron variant that is having an impact, he warned that attendance capacity could be capped, but until it is advised otherwise the target is 100 per cent capacity.

"We're working on 100 per cent until we're told otherwise," he said. "We're building extra grandstands. We're putting new hospitality facilities on sale. We're increasing the amount of GA viewing hubs in the venue."


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1. Posted by Egalitarian, 24/01/2022 2:03

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt. Perhaps something to consider before one clicks on the 'post comment' button. Particularly when the subject is very complex, hyper-technical, culturally sensitive or when a government of any stripe is attempting to manage a particularly difficult public health issue. And yes, I completely get the irony that I posted this..."

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2. Posted by Defiant, 21/01/2022 16:47

"No interest in the totalitarian nonsense from dictator dan. Drop it off the calendar."

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 21/01/2022 13:04

"Pleased to see the Aussies taking a strong position on this. The whole "Novax" Djokovic saga was extraordinarily unseemly & stupid, and the clarity of this statement leaves no wiggle-room; no matter how expensive the Lawyers.
Having said that maybe a Team or Driver will try it on in Court...... "

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4. Posted by Roli, 21/01/2022 12:18

"I heard that Djokovic was to drive in the second HAAS....."

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5. Posted by @R1Racing71, 21/01/2022 9:44

"I doubt Djokovic will be the only elite sportsman not to have a vaccine. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out..... "

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