Lack of vaccination against Covid-19, Novak Djokovic more uncertain than ever for the Australian Open

GRAND CHELEM – The Serbian champion, who has shown his reservations about vaccination for many months, will not participate in the ATP Cup in Sydney in early January. Enough to further increase fears of an absence from the Australian Open, which he has won 9 times.

If you have not officially stated that you have refused to be vaccinated, Novak Djokovic has been asking for months that athletes be free of their choice. A position that, until now, has not prevented him from extending his dominance over world tennis, but which runs the risk of depriving him of participation in the Australian Open. The Oceanian Grand Slam tournament, where the Serbian has already lifted the trophy nine times, requires players to be vaccinated.

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Covid-19: the challenge of vaccination

In this soap opera that has the planet of tennis on edge, the latest twist comes from the announcement, by the Serbian daily Blic, of Djokovic’s withdrawal from the ATP Cup, played from January 1 to 9 in Sydney. “Novak will not go to the ATP Cup at 99%. He is training here (in Belgrade), but has decided to ignore this tournament,” said a “source close” to the player. This competition, which is played on Australian soil just two weeks before the start of the Australian Open, is generally a rehearsal before the first Grand Slam of the calendar year.

The organizers of the big tournament, so far, do not budge: to participate in the competition, they require that the players can justify a vaccination. “Everyone is eager to attend the Australian Open, and everyone who is going to participate – spectators, players, officials, management – will have to be fully vaccinated,” recently repeated the Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Victoria, where the event is taking place. tournament. will take place.

The rumor of a medical exception

Novak Djokovic’s special status increases tensions: Not content with occupying the throne of world number one, the Serbian star holds the record for the number of victories in the tournament. Depriving such a star therefore seems apparently delicate to the organizers, who at the same time would attract the ire of the champion’s fans. The rumor of a medical exception is thus evoked, but these “are only medical exceptions, they are not means to circumvent these rules for privileged tennis players”, reacted the head of the tournament, Graig Tiley.

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There is no doubt that between now and January 17, the start date of the Australian Open, negotiations will continue between the management of the Australian Grand Slam and the player’s family members. However, we must prepare for a possible absence of “Nole” in court, especially if the statements of his father, at the end of November, on Serbian television can be trusted. Therefore, he had estimated that the nine-time defending champion would “probably not” go to the Australian Open, while still deploring “blackmail” by the organizers.

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