Australian Open: The organisers of the Australian Open are still unsure whether defending champion Novak Djokovic will compete in the tournament next month.
The world No. 1 has won the championship nine times but has declined to say if he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, despite previously expressing vaccination apprehension.
At Melbourne Park, all players must be vaccinated or submit documentation of medical exemption, but this information will not be made public.
The idea that Djokovic could get a waiver to play has sparked some outrage in Australia.
“Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated,” tournament director Craig Tiley told the reporters in Melbourne. “There will be a small number – a very small percentage – who will receive a medical exemption.”
“So, if you’re a player, a spectator, or a member of the staff, you’re either vaccinated or have a medical exemption that has been approved, and you’re on the Australian Immunisation Register. This ensures our safety and adds to our comfort on the job.
“Novak will either be vaccinated or get a medical exemption if he competes in the Australian Open. It’s his choice to keep his medical issue private and personal, just like any of us would do with whatever disease we may or may not have.
“We’re not going to compel him to say anything or ask him to say anything.”
Rafael Nadal, who is now quarantined with coronavirus as he prepares to return to the tour after a foot injury, is expected to be in Melbourne, according to Tiley.
He also expects huge audiences at Melbourne Park, but he expects all of the players to remain in the same hotel to minimise the chance of them contracting or spreading coronavirus in the community.
With the Omicron variant’s prevalence increasing over the world, there are serious concerns that the new season’s first Grand Slam, which begins on January 17, may be negatively impacted.
After playing an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week, Nadal, his coach Carlos Moya, and teammates Belinda Bencic and Ons Jabeur all revealed positive COVID-19 tests.
After testing positive before her match, Emma Raducanu was already ruled out of the competition and ordered to isolate in Abu Dhabi.
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