The world’s number one ranked men’s tennis player is a vocal opponent of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, and has repeatedly maintained his “freedom of choice” stance regarding the shot.
Novak Djokovic will have to be vaccinated to play in the Australian Open in January, sports media reported on Friday, citing the Tennis Australia governing organization.
Just earlier in the day, the director of the championship, Craig Tiley, apparently stated that unvaccinated players could not participate regardless of the status of their tests.
The championship is expected to be held without restrictions on the number of spectators, as it has been in recent years due to the pandemic.
Djokovic, 34, has reportedly refused to reveal his vaccination status and remarked last month that “things being what they are,” he was uncertain if he would defend his title at Melbourne Park.
Earlier, the 20-time Grand Slam winner Swiss Roger Federer ruled out participating in the 2022 Australian Open due to an injury he received. Federer reportedly said he plans to return to the tournament this summer.
Confirmed. Unvaccinated players cannot participate in the 2022 Australian Open.
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) November 19, 2021
Meanwhile, the Serbian player’s rival, Australian Nick Kyrgios revealed this week that he was “double-vaxxed,” but that forcing anyone, let alone athletes, to get vaccinated was wrong, in his opinion.
Djokovic appreciated his fellow tennis player’s views, adding that “the freedom of choice is essential for everyone, whether it’s me or somebody else,” and that he believes, with regards to getting a COVID-19 shot, “what you want to put in your body” is somebody’s personal choice.
Djokovic was attempting to be the first player to complete the calendar Grand Slam since Australia’s Rod Laver in 1969 by winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open this year.