Novak Djokovic celebrates Serbia's WC qualification
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Australian Open chiefs have made it clear that Novak Djokovic will not be allowed to play at next year’s tournament if he hasn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. Djokovic has refused to confirm whether he has been jabbed.
Government officials in the state of Victoria, where the Australian Open takes place, have stated that unvaccinated players will be barred from competing.
And the tournament director Craig Tiley, who is also the chief executive of Tennis Australia, has confirmed there will be no exceptions.
“There’s a lot of speculation about vaccination and just to be really clear, when the [state] Premier announced that everyone on site will need to be vaccinated, we made that clear to the playing group,” Tiley said on Saturday.
“[Novak] has said that he views this as a private matter for him. We would love to see Novak here – he knows that he’ll have to be vaccinated to play here.”
Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including the last three.
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The 34-year-old is currently tied at the top of the all-time Grand Slam leaderboard alongside Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal.
All three players have won 20 majors, but Djokovic looks to be the best-placed to move ahead of his rivals as he is the youngest of the trio and is ranked number one in the world.
Nadal has already confirmed that he is vaccinated and will take his place in Melbourne when the tournament gets underway on January 17.
But Djokovic will not copy the Spaniard by declaring his vaccination status.
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“Freedom of choice is essential for everyone, whether it’s me or somebody else,” he told reporters this week.
“Doesn’t really matter whether it’s vaccination or anything else in life. You should have the freedom to choose, to decide what you want to do. In this particular case, what you want to put in your body.
“I have been always a proponent of that and always a supporter of freedom of choice, and I will be always supporting that because freedom is essential for I’d say a happy and prosperous life.”
Djokovic won his first Australian Open in 2008 when he beat Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.
He has dominated the tournament ever since and has beaten Briton Andy Murray in four finals over the last decade.
The Serbian won the tournament earlier this year and also tasted success at the French Open and Wimbledon, before losing in the final of the US Open.
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