The world’s number one men’s tennis star Novak Djokovic, a confirmed vaccination sceptic has been given entry to the 2022 Australian Open on Wednesday, following intense speculation about his vaccination status.
The Serbian had cast doubt on whether he would defend his title next month, refusing to reveal whether he was inoculated against coronavirus, which is a requirement to play.
But after being named on Serbia’s team for January’s ATP Cup in Sydney that will precede the opening major of the year, he was also listed for the Grand Slam.
“All players, patrons and staff at the Australian Open have to be vaccinated,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.
“Any suggestion that Tennis Australia is seeking ‘loopholes‘ within this process is simply untrue.”
Tournament chief Craig Tiley last month said he expected the vaccination rate among players would be tracking “towards 100 percent” by the time the Grand Slam starts.
‘They’re the rules’
Government officials in Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open, have been adamant for months that only vaccinated players will access Melbourne Park from January 17-30.
The state’s Deputy Premier James Merlino rammed that home on Wednesday.
“Everyone’s looking forward to the Australian Open and everyone who will attend — spectators, players, officials, staff — everyone is expected to be fully vaccinated.”
“They’re the rules. Medical exemptions are just that — it’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players.”
Djokovic’s father Srdjan last month suggested his son “probably won’t” play in Australia.
“Of course he would want to go with all his heart,” he told Serbian television.
“But I really don’t know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it’s done that way.”