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There will be no unvaccinated players playing at the Australian Open after the state premier intervened on Wednesday to ban unvaccinated schoolchildren from the competition.
In 2013 a Sydney private school imposed a similar ban on public school students with regards to playing in the Australian Open, shortly after the UK’s outbreak of the measles virus which killed four teenagers.
The outbreak in Sydney was partially triggered by claims by a nurse and author of The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is linked to autism.
The state premier Daniel Andrews said the unvaccinated students involved in the 2013 outbreak “did not return to their school in the same state of health” as others.
“I am sending a message out loudly to sport that, where there are unvaccinated children in the broader community, they will not be allowed to participate in schools, sporting events or state-funded activities,” Andrews said.
Under the previous leadership of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Centre for International Sport Medicine (ACISM) was set up to address a number of contentious issues in sport, including improving athlete safety and player welfare, player performance and player equipment.
As part of its announcement, ACISM have also launched an online campaign targeting parents, particularly parents who have children at sports whose leading competitors include children with allergies.
“Nearly half a million Australian children between the ages of five and 17 have a confirmed allergy to peanut, tree nuts or another nut,” the notice states.
The online notice promotes a pamphlet “for parents of parents of children with allergies in sport and families” featuring resources on how to cope with and manage allergies as part of a broader effort to publicise the growing health risks associated with taking part in sports involving players with asthma, food allergies, food intolerance, and food allergies.
ACCIM has previously warned of the potential dangers associated with hay fever, asthmatics, stomach and toothaches as a result of participating in winter sporting events.
More recently, ACISM staff have released medical reports on an allergic reaction to a protein in an amino acid, and the potential risk of developing cancer with energy drinks.
The Victorian Premier described the campaign as an “inclusive” effort to raise awareness of allergic risks and its effects in sport.
More than 1.5 million Australians have a confirmed allergy to nuts
Medication used to treat hay fever or asthma
According to the notes included in the ACISM pamphlet, Australia has the highest number of potentially allergic schoolchildren in the world.
ACISM believes this is due to the impact of shared food and other ingredients from sports, such as the dairy and meat products that are part of many sports.
“While the evidence is anecdotal at this stage, we do not believe there are any synergies between the disease and sport in Australian case,” it states in its recent studies, which suggest one in every five children has a confirmed allergy to a nut, four in 10 foods contain milk protein, one in three sport drinks contain an amino acid which causes an allergy.
The educational campaign reinforces the risk associated with allergy and asthma being a current long-term health issue and offers a number of ways in which it may be managed at home, including home dosing with an antiseptic gel, avoiding contact with allergens while working or playing and discussing a better diet with a doctor.
For parents of children with allergies, ACISM says a supportive, proactive support network that involves health care providers and support systems to deal with allergies, including allergy tests, dietary changes and the inclusion of oral antiviral medicine during competition, is essential.
Parents can visit the ACISM website and receive a free brochure with an online questionnaire to survey their views about allergies and their treatment.
The ACISM website states: “There are no definitive studies which provide objective evidence to substantiate the health effects of sport or competition with food allergens which have high levels of unanthracised antigenicity [specificty] in the human body, and if this is the case then there is a risk of developing an allergy to them.”