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No special treatment for WSL’s non-vaxed

Kelly Slater could be barred from competing in Australia next year after World Surf League officials confirmed there will be no exemptions sought for unvaccinated surfers.

Victoria’s Bells Beach and Western Australia’s Margaret River will host Championship Tour events in April and May as part of a re-jigged calendar that includes four months of tiered competition on Australian shores.

Eleven-time world champion Slater last month lit up social media when he voiced his skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccine, going on to say he “knows more about being healthy than 99 per cent of doctors”.

It’s understood a large majority of the tour’s top surfers are vaccinated and the jab will not be mandated, only encouraged.

And it comes as nine-time champion Novak Djokovic’s vaccination status remains the hot topic ahead of January’s Australian Open.

Both Australian stops are likely to go ahead under strict COVID-19 protocols, while respective state guidelines and proof of vaccination to land in Australia would also rule out any non-vaccinated competitors.

The WSL’s Australia and Oceania boss Andrew Stark says time is on their side but the global body would respect all governments relevant to the 10-stop world tour next year.

“We’re a long way off April next year … and everyone’s learnt from COVID that one month is like one year,” he told AAP.

“Things change rapidly and every indication is that things are moving in a more positive direction with open borders.

“But it’ll be what it will be; if the government at the time in April have a policy where non-vaccinated people can’t come into Australia, then they can’t come into Australia.

“It’s a global tour, we’ll be respectful and follow the guidelines of each country.”

Australia hosted four events on the salvaged Championship Tour last year, with Australian rookie Morgan Cibilic and women compatriots Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore all making the inaugural top five WSL Finals.

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