Novak Djokovic has received more support over his controversial stance on the Covid-19 vaccine. The 34-year-old, still chasing a record 21st Grand Slam title, is set to miss the Australian Open in January after the country’s Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, reiterated plans to only allow people into the country if they are double vaccinated.
Djokovic has long courted controversy with his views, and his behaviour, since the ATP Tour was first shutdown due to Covid-19 in March 2020.
In June that year, he hosted his ill-fated Adria Tournament, which did not enforce any rules on social distancing and involved parties at public venues. As a result a number of players, including Djokovic himself, contracted the virus and passed it on to family members.
He also participated in a Facebook live stream with other Serbian athletes, where he was adamant he wouldn’t comply with any demands to be vaccinated to return to the tour.
Although he later clarified his remarks, insisting he was not against the vaccine but did not believe it should be forced on people, he has thus far refused to disclose his vaccination status. His silence has been widely viewed as an admission that he’s so far declined his jabs.
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Despite coming under fire for his perceived stance, the star has been supported by Russian player Daniil Medvedev, the man who denied him a record breaking win at the US Open when he beat him in the final at Flushing Meadows.
And now Ashleigh Barty, who has withdrawn from the WTA Finals in Mexico next month to avoid compromising her own Australian Open preparation, has said the Serbian should not be criticised for keeping medical information provate.
“I didn’t feel there was a need for me to tell everyone whether I was vaccinated or not,” the women’s world no 1 told the Courier Mail.
“I have been vaccinated my whole life. I think players are entitled to – at the end of the day it’s part of your medical history. You understand people make decisions for different reasons and you have to respect that.”
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The 25-year-old added: “From my point of view it’s personal to me. I had my vaccine in April. I was fit and healthy and I was doing it for the people around me to make sure we were safe.
“There is no judgement for me or necessity for me to see what others have done.”
Her comments echo the views of Medvedev, who previously agreed with Djokovic’s assertion that vaccination was a “personal matter” and didn’t have to be made public.
Ironically, the absence of Djokovic would invariably open the door for the likes of world no 2 Medvedev, whose win in New York represented a first Grand Slam title.
Nine of the Serbian’s 20 Grand Slam titles have been won in Melbourne, and he’s dominted the tournament in recent years, triumphing in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
It was also the scene of his first major win in 2008, beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.
He’s not the only high-profile player whose participation is in doubt this time around, with world no 3 Stefano Tsipitas also previously saying he did not agree with the vaccine being mandatory for players to compete on the tour.Internet Explorer Channel Network