No special deals to allow unvaccinated players at Australian Open: Official
Australia's Victoria state will not do special deals with unvaccinated athletes to allow them to compete at major events, an official said on Tuesday, putting Novak Djokovic's Australian Open title defence and bid for the Grand Slam record in doubt.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic once again declined to reveal whether he has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and said he was unsure if he would defend his title at next year’s Australian Open.
“Things being as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” Djokovic told the online edition of Serbian daily Blic. “I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate enquiry.
“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.”
Djokovic has won the season’s opening grand slam a record nine times, including the last three editions.
The 34-year-old last competed at the US Open, where his bid to complete the calendar slam — winning all four majors in the same year — was ended by Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final.
Djokovic, who is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on a record 20 Grand Slam titles, said he plans to compete in the Paris Masters, the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and the Davis Cup before the end of 2021.
“Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful Grand Slam tournament. I want to compete, I love this sport and I am still motivated,” he said.
“I am following the situation regarding the Australian Open and I understand the final decision (on Covid-related restrictions) will be made in two weeks.”
No jab, no visa likely
Australia’s Victoria state will not do special deals with unvaccinated athletes to allow them to compete at major events, an official said on Tuesday.
Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said he opposed special arrangements to let unvaccinated athletes compete in the state. “On the question of vaccination, no,” he told a media briefing.
“The virus doesn’t care what your tennis ranking is, or how many Grand Slams you’ve won. It’s completely irrelevant. You need to be vaccinated to keep yourself safe and to keep others safe.”
Tennis Australia, which organises the grand slam, declined to comment.
Victoria, which is due to exit a near three-month lockdown this week, recently included professional athletes in a vaccine mandate covering millions of “authorised workers”, without clarifying whether it applied to athletes from overseas or other Australian states.
Andrews suggested the mandate covered international athletes, too. “Professional sport is part of those (items on the) authorised worker list and they have to be double-dose vaccinated,” he said.
Andrews said Victoria’s stance could be a “moot point”, given the federal government might not issue visas to unvaccinated athletes.
“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country and if they did get a visa they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks,” he added.