Novak Djokovic's Australian Open Status Uncertain Due to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 19, 2021

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, returns to Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, during the men's singles final of the US Open tennis championships, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo

The men's side of the 2022 Australian Open may be missing its biggest star when it starts on Jan. 17.

Daniel Andrews, the premier of the state of Victoria, said those players who are not vaccinated may not be able to participate in next year's tournament. 

That puts Novak Djokovic's vaccination status under the spotlight.

"I don't think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country," Andrews told reporters. "And if they did get a visa, they'd probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks. I don't think ... any other tennis player or golfer or Formula One driver will even get a visa to get here."

He continued, saying, COVID-19 "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."

For his part, Djokovic has not publicly revealed whether he is vaccinated or not.

That remained the same Tuesday when he told reporters: "Things being 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."

Putting aside the reality that vaccination status is not just an individual matter during a global pandemic with a virus that can be transmitted via the air, whether the top-ranked player in the world can participate in one of the four majors becomes a relevant topic in the lead-up to the tournament.

Djokovic is not only the top-ranked men's player, but he is the three-time reigning Australian Open champion.

The Serb has won the year's first major nine times and figured to have the opportunity to surpass Roger Federer's and Rafael Nadal's marks of 20 career Grand Slam singles titles. The 34-year-old nearly did that this year, but he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the final of the U.S. Open after winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

While Djokovic is not interested in publicly disclosing whether he is vaccinated, it will likely be the biggest storyline for the 2022 Australian Open if he cannot participate.


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