Novak Djokovic is not
being “blackmailed” by Australian Open organisers, a senior official
said Wednesday, insisting a requirement for players to be vaccinated was about
The 34-year-old world number one would be bidding for a
record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne in January, but he has
refused to say if he has been jabbed against coronavirus.
His father Srdjan told Serbian television on Sunday his son
“probably won’t” play the opening Grand Slam of the year over the
mandatory inoculation rules.
“Of course he would want to go with all his
heart,” he said.
“But I really don’t know if that will happen. Probably
not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it’s done that
Martin Pakula, sports minister in Victoria — the state
where the Australian Open is held — said he was keen for the nine-time
champion to defend his title.
But he told reporters: “If you’re a visiting
international tennis player or a visiting sportsman of any kind, it’s about
your responsibility to the community that you are being welcomed into.
“And that’s why we are asking those international
tennis stars to follow the same requirements as Victorians are.
“It’s not about blackmail, it’s about making sure the
Victorian community is protected.”
Tournament chief Craig Tiley made clear last month that all
players must be inoculated and there would be no concessions.
The Australian Open went ahead this year but players were
forced to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine, crowds were restricted and a
five-day snap lockdown was called mid-event.
Organisers expect it will run as scheduled in 2022 from
They have said fully vaccinated players can enter Australia
without being quarantined or confined to bio-secure bubbles, although that
scenario could be complicated by the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus