Novak Djokovic to play at Australian Open, organizers say
No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic was named as a participant in the Australian Open in January by tournament organizers on Wednesday. But Djokovic has previously said he might not attend the Open because he didn’t want to reveal his vaccination status.
The Grand Slam tournament included Djokovic on his main draw entry list for the summer tournament. “Defending champion Djokovic will play for an incredible 10th Australian Open trophy – and a men’s record 21st major singles title – and be the favorite in a draw that features 49 of the top 50 in the world,” indicates the press release.
But Craig Tiley, managing director of Tennis Australia, which hosts the Australian Open, acknowledged on Thursday the “confusion” surrounding the announcement. He said in a interview on local television: “What was released yesterday was a general entry list. And, of course, everyone is on the entry list. This is not a pledge list on who exactly is in the draw. It will be several weeks from now, when the actual roster and draw will be finalized for the Australian Open.
Wednesday’s announcement followed one made a day earlier by the ATP Cup tournament, to be held in Sydney ahead of the Australian Open. The ATP Cup has registered Djokovic among its participants. Djokovic, the defending champion and nine-time Australian Open winner, could not be reached immediately for comment.
Australia has imposed a temporary two-week ban on international arrivals due to the Omicron variant. Before that, the government announced that certain categories of visa holders would be allowed to enter the country freely if they were vaccinated. Authorities have put a cap on the number of unvaccinated travelers who can enter the country per week, and they have been required to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
Australian authorities have said any player participating in tournaments in the country must be vaccinated. And in his interview, Mr Tiley reiterated, “No one can play at the Australian Open if they are not vaccinated.
In October, Djokovic told Serbian media that he might not attend the Australian Open. His remarks sparked a series of conflicting statements between Australian government ministers and tournament organizers on entry requirements for international visitors.
Local media have reported speculation that Tennis Australia is seeking medical exemptions for unvaccinated players. The organization has denied these allegations.
James Merlino, Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, said in response to rumors: “Medical exemptions are just that – it is no escape for privileged tennis players.