A Twitter user recently unearthed a rather interesting piece of information that seems to suggest Novak Djokovic has already taken the COVID-19 vaccine. If the report turns out to be true, that would mean the Serb is no longer at risk of skipping the 2022 Australian Open.
The crux of the matter is that Novak Djokovic had visited SummerStage - a music festival in New York's Central Park - while he was in the city for the US Open. The interesting bit about this detail is the fact that all guests attending concerts at SummerStage need to compulsorily be vaccinated, as seen in the tweets below.
It is pertinent to note that the option of providing negative PCR test mentioned above is only available at Marcus Garvey Park and Coney Island Amphitheater, and not at Central Park. For the latter venue, full vaccination is necessary even if you have tested negative.
Now as seen in the tweet below, Novak Djokovic was spotted at Central Park during SummerStage, holding a guitar case in his hand while greeting a young fan.
The picture doesn't confirm that Novak Djokovic attended a concert, but it is unlikely for the Serb to have been at the location if he wasn't attending one. Djokovic is well-known for his love of music, and if he did take in any of the musical performances at SummerStage, that would be the clearest evidence yet that he has been vaccinated.
As the user named Savin recently pointed out, Novak Djokovic couldn't have attended any concert at SummerStage if he hadn't been vaccinated.
Another Twitter user named Varun Mothe had also talked about this in the immediate aftermath of Novak Djokovic's SummerStage visit.
These reports strongly suggest that the Serb, despite having openly voiced his concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine for much of the last one year, has actually got jabbed.
That said, there is a small possibility that Novak Djokovic was just passing through the grounds during SummerStage and that he didn't attend any concert. To do that he wouldn't have needed to get vaccinated, as Central Park doesn't bar visitors on such grounds.
Djokovic himself has consistently remained tight-lipped about his vaccination status, so it is unlikely we will receive a direct confirmation on this matter from him anytime soon.
Speculation had arisen that Novak Djokovic's participation in the 2022 Australian Open was in doubt due to recent mandate in Victoria
The State of Victoria, which is home to the Australian Open, recently announced a health mandate that could have ramifications for the Melbourne Slam. The state now requires all professional athletes, amongst other workers, to be vaccinated in order to carry out their activities in the region.
There has been widespread speculation that this health order could directly Novak Djokovic's ambitions, given that he is always a heavy favorite to win in that part of the world. The mandate also says that individuals have to have received their first dose no later than 15 October, with the second dose being no later than the final week of November.
Daniel Andrews, the Premier of the State of Victoria, hinted in his announcement that English cricketers attending the Ashes later this year would not be allowed to enter the country if they were not double vaccinated. He also indicated that even though a policy change might occur in the future, any change in the shorter term is unlikely.
"I don't issue passports or visas ... but I think it is highly unlikely that the Commonwealth government will be letting anybody into this country that has not been double-vaxxed, certainly in the medium term," Andrews said. "That might change over time."
As such, Novak Djokovic - and the rest of the players - would have no choice but to get vaccinated if they want to play the Australian Open. But if the SummerStage evidence is true, then Djokovic doesn't have to worry about this anymore.