Novak Djokovic’s defence of Australian Open in doubt after official confirms unvaccinated may not get visas

Novak Djokovic – Novak Djokovic Australian Open defence in doubt after official confirms no special plans for unvaccinated players – GETTY IMAGES

Players who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 are unlikely to be allowed into the country to compete in the Australian Open, the leader of the state hosting the tournament has said.

Victoria, which is scheduled to host the first major of 2022 in January, has introduced a vaccination mandate for professional athletes as it battles a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday told reporters: “I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country and if they did get a visa they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks.”

Victoria, where the Grand Slam takes place in Melbourne, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes, although authorities have not clarified what the requirement will be for those coming from abroad.

Andrews made the comments after Novak Djokovic, the men’s world No 1 and defending champion, declined to reveal his vaccination status and said he was unsure if he would defend his title.

Djokovic told Serbia’s Blic: “Things beings as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne.

“I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry.

“People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person. Whatever you say ‘Yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it’, they will take advantage.”

Tennis is split down the middle on the issue of vaccinations. Earlier this year, Andy Murray argued that players should be jabbed because they “have a responsibility‚Ķto look out for everyone else” although former British No 1 Johanna Konta, who missed Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics after contracting the virus, finds herself on the opposite side and in August said she would make a ‘personal choice’ on the vaccine.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday international travel to and from the country would resume from November 1 for citizens and permanent residents, but emphasised “no decision to allow other visa holders” had yet been made.

Tournament organisers had to overcome many obstacles to hold the event this year, with the start date pushed back three weeks and players forced to quarantine for a fortnight on arrival in the country.

Tennis Australia insisted in May the tournament would proceed in January 2022.