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Djokovic hints at Australian Open snub over anti-coronavirus jab rules

·3 min read

World number one Novak Djokovic admitted he might not defend his Australian Open crown next January in Melbourne after politicians in the country warned of strict health measures for unvaccinated sports men and women as part of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria - the region in which Melbourne is situated - warned that unvaccinated athletes were unlikely to be granted visas to enter the province.

"They will have to be vaccinated," he said. "I don't think any tennis player or golfer or Formula 1 driver will even get a visa to get here.”

Stance

Djokovic, 34, has refused to reveal whether he has been vaccinated.

“It is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry," Djokovic told the online edition of the Serbian daily newspaper Blic.

“People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person. Whatever you say: ‘Yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it,’ they will take advantage.

"I'm following the situation around Australia and as far as I know, the final decision from the Australian government and Tennis Australia will be in a fortnight.”

Djokovic added: "With all of the things going on, I still don't know if I'll be playing in Melbourne. I don't know what my schedule will be.”

Rules

Australian and international athletes have been included in an “authorised workers” list, meaning they must be double dosed in order to compete in the country.

Martin Pakula, Victoria’s sports minister, has urged the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women's Tennis Association - which run the international professional circuits - to encourage players to be fully vaccinated.

“That will give them the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open with the more minimal restrictions that might be in place for those people," he added.

At the start of the year, Djokovic won a record-extending ninth title in Melbourne when he swept past Daniil Medvedev in straight sets.

Success

It was his 18th triumph at a Grand Slam tournament. The Serb also won the French Open in Paris and Wimbledon in London.

In New York, Medvedev avenged the defeat in Melbourne and thwarted Djokovic’s attempt to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Grand Slam events in the same calendar year.

Djokovic has not played competitively since the loss in September at Flushing Meadows. He is scheduled to return to action at the Paris Masters tournament from 1 November.

He will then seek a record equalling sixth title at the eight-player season ending championships and finish the year representing Serbia in the Davis Cup.

In the spring of 2020, Djokovic said he was opposed to vaccinations. His comments brought a barrage of criticism leading, he told Blic, to his reticence about the subject.

“I haven't talked too much about vaccination because everyone has been making assumptions based on something I said a year ago.

"It creates fear and panic among people and I don't want to be part of that,” he added.

“I feel like everyone is hostile to me. I don't want to give them a reason to write things about me."

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