Is Vaccine Skeptic Novak Djokovic Going to Play in the Australian Open?

Djokovic's vaccination status remains unclear, and it may prevent him from entering the upcoming Grand Slam

Novak Djokovic of Serbia wipes away sweat during a Davis Cup semifinal match
Novak Djokovic of Serbia wipes away sweat during a Davis Cup semifinal match.
Sanjin Strukic/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty

It is set in stone that the Australian Open open is set to begin on January 17, but it far from certain whether the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player is going to be there thanks to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

At this point in time, it remains unclear whether world No.1 Novak Djokovic is vaccinated against COVID-19. As such, it is uncertain whether he will be allowed into Melbourne Park — or even the country it calls home — to compete for his 10th Australian Open title. If he doesn’t get the jab, it is possible the major tournament’s organizer could grant the 34-year-old Serb a medical exemption.

“If Novak shows up at the Australian Open, he’ll either be vaccinated or he’ll have a medical exemption,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said. “[It’s] his choice on his medical condition, it’s his choice to keep personal and private like all of us would do with any condition we may or may not have. We are not going to force him or ask him to disclose that.”

Per the ATP Tour, 90 of the top 100 men’s tennis pros have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We want to have the best players here, I’d love to have Novak here. If he meets those conditions then great, if not, it’s disappointing,” Tiley added. “Medically, he doesn’t talk to anyone about it. I’m not going to ask Novak that, it’s none of my business. [If he is here] I will know that he fulfills one of those conditions.”

Djokovic’s father Srdjan said this week that his son would love to play in the tournament but would not be forced into doing anything.

“They have to decide whether they will let Novak in,” the 34-year-olds father said. “If they decide (not to let him play), they have to stand behind their decision. He has won the Australian Open nine times, he now wants to play, but they have to permit him to play. Novak will do what he thinks is the best for him, nobody will impose an opinion on him.”

Djokovic is supposed to play for Serbia in the ATP Cup, which starts in Sydney on January 1. Whether that happens or not should go a long way in predicting whether Djokovic will compete in the Australian Open.

If he does take the court in Melbourne, Djokovic will be going for a record 21st men’s Grand Slam title.

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