Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open status in limbo over COVID vaccine

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Everyone who plays at the first Grand Slam tournament of 2022 will be fully vaccinated, which means that its reigning champion might not be there.

Novak Djokovic, who has not said whether he is vaccinated and has expressed a hesitation concerning vaccine mandates in the past, might be weighing how badly he wants to defend his title at the Australian Open.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley confirmed on Saturday that players who are not fully vaccinated will not be allowed into the country. In Victoria, where the tournament is held, more than 90 percent of the residents are vaccinated.

“It’s been made very clear when the Premier [Scott Morrison] announced several weeks ago that in order to participate at the Australian Open, to come into Victoria, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated. Immediately, we communicated that to the playing group,” Tiley told reporters, according to Tennis.com.

“It is the one direction that you take, that you can ensure everyone’s safety. All the playing group understands it. Our patrons will need to be vaccinated, all the staff working the Australian Open need to be vaccinated.”

Tennis
Novak Djokovic
AP

Djokovic has not stated whether he is vaccinated but has shown hesitation. He first said he is against vaccines, and later backtracked and said it would be a personal decision.

“I’ve always believed in freedom of choice,” Djokovic told reporters in May. “And I will keep the decision as to whether I’m going to get vaccinated or not to myself.”

Tiley said he has talked with the nine-time Australian Open champion.

“I know that he wants to play, he’s clearly indicated that,” Tiley said. “And he knows the conditions that he would have to undergo in order to be eligible to play.”

The tournament is set for Jan. 17-30.

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