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Novak Djokovic could be forced to miss the Australian Open after a top politician hinted that unvaccinated players won’t be allowed to take part

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  • An Australian politician has hinted that Novak Djokovic may have to sit out the Australian Open next year.
  • Martin Pakula, sports minister of Victoria, suggested that players may not be allowed to play if not vaccinated against COVID.
  • Djokovic has previously said he will not be forced to be vaccinated in order to play tennis.

The reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic may not be able to defend his title if he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, a politician with influence over the tournament has hinted.

The men’s world number one and his fellow competitors have been urged by an Australian sports minister to get vaccinated ahead of the tournament which starts in January.

“If I was an ATP or WTA player, I’d be getting vaccinated,” Martin Pakula, the sports minister for Victoria — where the tournament is held — told Australian sports radio station SEN.

“That will give them the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open with the more minimal restrictions that might be in place for those people,” Pakula said.

He did not explicitly name Djokovic, but the Serbian has been vocal in his opposition to vaccination against COVID in the past.

Novak Djokovic with the Australian Open trophy.

Djokovic has won the tournament a record nine times.

TPN/Getty Images


While Djokovic’s vaccine status is not publicly known, he has previously said that he would consider it “unacceptable” if vaccination was mandatory to play on the ATP Tour.

“My issue here with vaccines is if someone is forcing me to put something in my body. That I don’t want. For me that’s unacceptable,” Djokovic said in an interview with the New York Times in August 2020.

“I am not against vaccination of any kind, because who am I to speak about vaccines when there are people that have been in the field of medicine and saving lives around the world? 

“I’m sure that there are vaccines that have little side effects that have helped people and helped stop the spread of some infections around the world.”

COVID-19 vaccines have been shown over and over to be safe and effective. The shots lower the risk of hospitalization and death 25-fold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic serves to the Netherland's Tallon Griekspoor during their 2021 US Open Tennis tournament

Novak Djokovic.

Getty/Ed Jones


On unvaccinated players, Pakula said he was unsure if they would even be allowed into Australia, which has some of the strictest regulations on COVID of any country in the world.

“Whether or not unvaccinated people are allowed in [to Australia] at all, I don’t know the answer to that yet,” he said.

“That’s going to be the subject, I suspect, of discussion at national cabinet and amongst the federal cabinet.

“As for the rules that might apply around the Australian Open, specifically, we’re in discussions with Tennis Australia and the department of health about that.”

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, caught COVID-19 last year when he hosted a tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.

Afterwards, he posted on Instagram to say he was “deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm.”

A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole)

According to Our World in Data, Australia’s vaccination rate is at 51% which is lower than the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, where the other tennis Grand Slam tournaments are played.

Courtesy By INSIDER

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