Australian Open chief Craig Tiley has confirmed that all players, including World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to take part in the 2022 season's opening Major.
Djokovic has remained tight-lipped about his vaccination status, explaining that it's a private matter. This has cast doubt over his participation at next year's Australian Open considering the recent health mandate introduced by the Victorian government.
Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews had insisted that players would need to be fully vaccinated in order to enter the region, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said they would be allowed into the country as long as they are willing to serve 14 days of quarantine.
In a recent press conference, Craig Tiley put all speculation to bed, explaining that most of the players on the men's and women's tours have been vaccinated, and that those who have not will need to do so in order to participate in Melbourne next year.
Tiley also expressed hope that Djokovic would be present at the Australian Open next year.
"Obviously there is a lot of speculation around vaccination," Tiley was quoted as saying by TennisMajors. "The good news is that most of the tennis players both on the men’s and the women’s side are fully vaccinated, and Novak, as he has previously said, that’s a private issue for him. He’s had great success here in Melbourne, and he’s always said that the Australian Open is the event that puts the wind in his sails – I hope we get to see Novak."
“All the playing group understands it. Our patrons will need to be vaccinated, all the staff working at the Australian Open will need to be vaccinated, when you’re in a state where there is more than 90 percent of the population fully vaccinated, it’s the right thing to do," he said.
Novak Djokovic is the two-time defending champion at the Australian Open
The Australian Open is Novak Djokovic's most successful tournament. The Serb has won the event a record nine times, including the last two editions. If he participates next year, he will be the overwhelming favourite to take home the title once again.
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With Rafael Nadal's comeback gaining pace, Djokovic has a big call on his hands with regards to his participation at the Australian Open. If he chooses to skip the event, he loses a great opportunity to take the lead in the Slam race, while his World No. 1 ranking will also come under threat with Daniil Medvedev hot on his tail.