If Novak Djokovic wants to defend his Australian Open title this January, he will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the country's immigration minister said Wednesday.
Australia's Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said that all visitors, tennis players included, needed to be fully vaccinated to enter the country. More than a third of players on the men’s (35%) and women’s tours (40%) had not been fully vaccinated by the start of last week, according to figures provided by the Association of Tennis Professional and the Women’s Tennis Association, per the Brisbane Times.
The season's first Major begins January 17.
Djokovic would not confirm if he had or had not been vaccinated in an interview earlier this week. Per Serbian journalist, Saša Ozmo, Djokovic said, "I won’t disclose whether I am vaccinated or not."
"Too many people allow themselves the freedom to ask and then to judge," Djokovic said. "Whatever you say—I have, I have not, maybe, I do not know or I am thinking about it—they will use it against you. There is excessive speculation, from the media as well, which bothers me a lot.
"I have not spoken too much (on vaccination) because everyone was making assumptions based on something I have said a year ago."
Djokovic, who is a nine-time Australian Open champion, previously said he would be against setting coronavirus immunization as a condition for return to the tour. “Personally, I am opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” he told a group of Serbian players in a live Facebook chat.
Tennis Australia, which organizes the grand slam, said in a statement it was still working with authorities on conditions for players, fans and tournament staff.
"Our understanding is that the details around international visitors entering the country are yet to be decided and we hope to have more information soon," the governing body said.
Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, has been in lockdown since August due to an outbreak of the Delta variant. It will begin to open up on Friday, though, non-citizens are not expected to be allowed into the country until early-2022.
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