A few weeks before the opening of the Australian Open, the organizers have finally announced their policy vis-à-vis vaccination against Covid-19. Tennis players must have fulfilled this obligation if they want to participate in the tournament.
Scheduled for January 17-30 in Melbourne, the first Grand Slam tournament of the season had long left doubts, but tournament manager Craig Tiley confirmed the news on Saturday, November 20. After more than 260 days of cumulative confinement, the second city of the country could not afford to send a contrary signal, even to the stars of the little yellow ball.
“There is a lot of speculation about vaccination and to be absolutely clear, when the Prime Minister (of the state of Victoria) announced that everyone at the site should be vaccinated, we have it. let players know, ”Craig Tiley told Channel Nine.
Six weeks ago, only 50% of players were fully vaccinated, but that rate jumped to 80% after the Victoria government announced, he said, adding that he “continues to approach 100 % ”.
The pressure is on Djokovic
Obviously, this decision was eagerly awaited because it seems to concern primarily the star of tennis, the N.1 at ATP Novak Djokovic, who holds the record for coronation on the Australian surface, with 9 titles. The latter has indeed until then always refused to say whether or not he was vaccinated. To ignore this tournament would take away a great chance for him to become the only player in history to win 21 Grand Slam titles.
No later than Wednesday November 17, after his victory against Andrey Rublev at the Turin Masters, he declared that “freedom of choice is essential for everyone, mine as well as that of others. It doesn’t matter if it’s vaccination or anything else in life. We should have the freedom to choose, to decide what to do. In this particular case, what we want to inject into the body ”, suggesting that he still had not submitted to this obligation now.
Novak Djokovic “said he considered this to be a private matter. We would like to see Novak here. He knows he will have to be vaccinated to play here, ”said the tournament manager.
While for the 2021 edition of the Australian Open, the spectator gauge had been set at 30,000 per day, or 50% of the capacity, the organizers announced that this time the stands could be full, the vaccination rate in the state of Victoria approaching 90%.
Apart from Djokovic, Craig Tiley confirmed the participation of Rafael Nadal, also in search of a 21st Grand Slam coronation.
Among the women, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty will try to win at home, against defending champion Naomi Osaka who has confirmed her presence, as will Serena Williams who is aiming for a 24th Grand Slam.