Australian Open won’t budge on flu vaccine for players, just as H1N1 virus spikes

(Reuters) Australian Tennis Association chief executive Craig Tiley said he would prefer the grand slam tournaments to introduce a rule that players should be vaccinated against flu because of increasing strains of the H1N1…

Australian Open won’t budge on flu vaccine for players, just as H1N1 virus spikes

(Reuters) Australian Tennis Association chief executive Craig Tiley said he would prefer the grand slam tournaments to introduce a rule that players should be vaccinated against flu because of increasing strains of the H1N1 virus, widely known as swine flu.

The number of inactive players has surged at the Australian Open with 43 withdrawals to date, including British player Johanna Konta, who pulled out of the tournament before it began due to a knee injury.

Former world number two Konta and her Belgian team mate Elise Mertens did not compete in the Brisbane International last week because of colds, while Czech Karolina Pliskova did not participate in the Hopman Cup after falling ill.

“It’s something I would prefer to see, just because (it) cuts down on the virus,” Tiley said on Thursday in a conference call.

“It seems simple to me, it makes sense to me.”

Tiley said while the Aussie Open refused to change the qualification system to reduce the number of players available, it also said it would not comment further on the issue.

The World Health Organization says influenza A strains account for more than 90 percent of flu cases.

While swine flu, also known as H1N1, is no longer a pandemic, the seasonal flu is not uncommon in the northern hemisphere.

Five women have died of swine flu since December and almost 60 people have been hospitalized in Australia.

The Australian Open begins at Melbourne Park on Jan. 15.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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