World tennis Number One and defending champion Novak Djokovic will not play the 2022 edition of the Australian Open in response to the vaccination requirement against COVID-19 imposed by local authorities and organizers.
Srdjan Djokovic, father of the Serbian star, Monday said Tennis Australia’s stance was tantamount to blackmail, as he announced his son's decision not to abide by such a requirement, but left the door open to a change of mind if the decision is reversed.
Organizers of the year’s first Grand Slam have said that all players will have to be vaccinated to take part. The world's top player has so far declined to disclose whether he is vaccinated.
“As far as vaccines and non-vaccines are concerned, it is the personal right of each of us whether we will be vaccinated or not. No one has the right to enter into our intimacy,” Srdjan Djokovic was quoted as saying.
“Under these blackmails and conditions... I wouldn’t [play]. And he’s my son, so you decide for yourself,” Djokovic Sr told reporters.
Novak Djokovic has won nine Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park, including this year’s edition, and shares the record of 20 men’s Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.
Nadal has confirmed he will play at Melbourne Park in January but Federer will miss the tournament as he recovers from another knee surgery.
The Australian Open begins on January 17th.
Craig Telay, director of the Australian Open, announced days ago that players who did not receive the Covid-19 vaccine will not be able to play the tournament scheduled for January 17-30 in Melbourne.
I would like him to play with all my heart because he is an athlete, Djokovic Sr insisted.
According to press reports, 85% of professional tennis players have been vaccinated, while public and staff must also be immunized in order to attend the tournament.