World No. 1 Novak Djokovic could miss to defend his title at the Australian Open and bid for the Grand Slam record after the state of Victoria has said that no athlete, who has not been fully vaccinated, will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open in January 2022.
On the other hand Djokovic has refused to reveal his Covid-19 vaccine status which casts doubt over his participation at the Australian Open.
On Wednesday, Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke confirmed the state’s ruling. “The government, in establishing its borders, has said that you’ll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia,” Hawke said during an interview with ABC News.
“That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated,” he added.
On the other hand, Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, also said that no exemptions would be made for anyone.
“(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,” he said on Tuesday.
“The state of Victoria, where the grand slam event takes place in Melbourne, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes, although authorities have not yet clarified what the requirement will be for those coming from abroad,” he had added.
Earlier this month, Andrews had announced that vaccination would be mandatory for all domestic professional athletes.
Djokovic meanwhile, refused to reveal his vaccination status saying: “Things beings as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne.”
“I will not reveal my status, whether I have been vaccinated or not. It is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry. 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 told the online edition of Serbian daily Blic.
Notably, Djokovic has won the Australian Open, which is the opening grand slam of the year, a record nine times, including the last three editions.
“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. I believe there will be a lot of restrictions just like this year, but I doubt there will be too many changes.” said Djokovic.
“My manager, who is in contact with the Australian Tennis Federation, tells me they are trying to improve the conditions for everyone, both for those who have been vaccinated and those who have not,” he added.
Significantly, Serbia’s Djokovic is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on a record 20 Grand Slam titles.
He has however said that he has plans to compete in the Paris Masters, the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and the Davis Cup before the end of 2021.
On the other hand, Tennis Australia, which organises the Australian Open, is yet to comment on the entire issue.