Novak Djokovic may not defend his Australian Open title after the tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed that all players will have to be fully vaccinated.
Nine-time champion Djokovic, who said he was not on favour of vaccinations 2020, has refused to reveal if he has been inoculated.
“There’s a lot of speculation about vaccination and just to be really clear, when the (Victoria) premier announced that everyone on site… will need to be vaccinated, we made that clear to the playing group,” Tiley told Channel Nine television on Saturday.
“All the playing group understands it, our patrons will need to be vaccinated, all the staff working at the Australian Open will need to be vaccinated.”
World No 1 Djokovic will aim for a record-breaking 21st major if he competes at the Australian Open next year.
“We would love to see Novak here. He knows that he’ll have to be vaccinated to play here,” Tiley said.
But, according to Tiley, Djokovic “has said that he views this as a private matter for him.”
Djokovic said this month he would await official confirmation on the requirements from Tennis Australia before making a decision.
“I am going to decide on whether I go to Australia after I see an official statement from Tennis Australia,” he said on the eve of the Paris Masters.
“There has been no official announcement or statement and until that is out I won’t be talking about this any more. I do not want to be part of the stories about the assumptions and what ifs.”
Organisers expect it will run as scheduled in 2022 from January 17, with fully vaccinated players set to be able to enter Australia without being quarantined or confined to bio-secure bubbles.
Melbourne, where the tournament is held, has spent more than 260 days under lockdown during the pandemic and the Victoria state government made clear last month there would be no concessions for unvaccinated players.