Djokovic unsure if he will defend Aus Open title with unvaccinated players unlikely to play in Melbourne

By Sports Desk October 18, 2021

World number one Novak Djokovic is unsure if he will defend his Australian Open crown in Melbourne next year due to vaccination requirements.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Djokovic was among the players critical of the conditions athletes endured prior to this year's Australian Open, with strict quarantine measures introduced, though the nine-time champion cast doubt over his participation.

"Things being as they are, I still don't know if I will go to Melbourne," 20-time major winner Djokovic told Blic. "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."

"Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam tournament. I want to compete. I love this sport and I am still motivated," said Djokovic, who has not played since losing in the US Open final, having withdrew from the Indian Wells Masters.

"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.

"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."

Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews responded to Djokovic's comments on Tuesday, saying it was unlikely unvaccinated players would be granted a visa to travel to Australia.

"I don't think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country and if they did get a visa they'd probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks," Andrews told reporters.

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