World No 1 Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan has claimed that his son will not play the Australian Open in January if the 20-time Grand Slam champion is forced to be inoculated.
The Victoria state government had made it clear that all players need to provide proof of being fully vaccinated or they will not be allowed to compete. Djokovic senior has subsequently said that his son will simply not play under “these blackmails and conditions.”
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“As far as vaccines and non-vaccines are concerned, it is the personal right of each of us whether we will be vaccinated or not. No one has the right to (force someone to reveal private information), it is guaranteed by the constitution. Everyone has the right to decide on their health,” he said to Serbian channel TV Prva.
“Will he publish it (if he is vaccinated or not), I don’t think so. I don’t know that decision either, and even if I did, I wouldn’t share it with you. He has the right to decide as he wants.”
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No vaccine, no play
At the tournament launch last week, director Craig Tiley reiterated the ‘no vaccine, no play’ stance the Victoria government had put in place for the Melbourne Slam.
“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,” he had said to Channel Nine.
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“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.”
This decision raised doubts over Djokovic’s title defence, as the nine-time champion in Melbourne has refused to declare if he has been vaccinated or not.
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When asked, during the ATP Finals, he remained non-committal: “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
No giving in to ‘blackmail’
Djokovic senior meanwhile has taken a swipe at the Australian government and tournament officials for taking the stance.
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“It was embarrassing because of the announcement of those rulers in the provinces of Australia, who gave themselves the right to call out nine-time champion of Australia,” he said.
“Whether he will appear there depends on them how they will position themselves. He wants to play because he is an athlete, and we would love that too. Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won’t play at AO.
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“What is a recognized vaccine, Mr. Craig? Russian vaccine is not recognized? According to our criteria, only Chinese and Russian are recognized. Recognize them, and we will vaccine, with pleasure.”