All players at the Australian Open must be vaccinated for the January Grand Slam, tournament chief Craig Tiley confirmed on Saturday, adding to the pressure on world number one and defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic, who He declined to say whether he had been vaccinated.
Melbourne, where the tournament is held, has spent more than 260 days in lockdown during epidemics, and the Victorian state government made it clear last month that there would be no concessions for players who did not get vaccinated.
Tyle said the playing group had been informed that they would have to get a job to compete in Melbourne Park.
He told Channel Nine that “there is a lot of speculation about vaccination and to be clear, when the (Victoria) premier announced that everyone on the site … needs to be vaccinated. “We made it clear to the playing group,” he told Channel Nine. Television
“All the playing groups understand that our mentors will need to be vaccinated, all the staff working at the Australian Open will need to be vaccinated.”
That includes nine-time champion Djokovic.
Tyle said the Serbian superstar, who competes in Melbourne, would try to win a record 21st Grand Slam singles title, “saying he considers it a private matter.”
“We would love to see Novak here. He knows he will have to get vaccinated to play here,” he added.
Djokovic said earlier this month that he would wait for a formal confirmation from Tennis Australia on the requirements before making a decision.
“I am going to decide if I will go to Australia after seeing the official statement from Tennis Australia,” he said at the Paris Masters.
“There has been no official announcement or statement about it and I will not talk about it further until it is revealed. I do not want to be part of the stories about assumptions and what-ifs.”
The Australian Open went ahead this year, but the players were forced to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine, the crowd was restricted and the five-day snap lockdown was called a mid-event.
Organizers expect it to run as scheduled from January 17, 2022. Fully vaccinated players will be able to enter Australia without being quarantined or restricted to biosecure bubbles.
Bumper mobs will also be allowed, with Victoria targeting 90% of vaccinations, setting aside long-standing restrictions, including capabilities in sports competitions.
Doubts remain over Djokovic, with Tyley saying Rafael Nadal will return in search of the 21st Salem crown, while fellow 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has been ruled out due to a sustained right knee injury.
Top-ranked Ashley Barty will make another attempt to win her home major for the women, and defending champion Naomi Osaka has confirmed she will play.
Tyle said Serena Williams was also expected as she continues to target the 24th Salem title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.
“We are in regular contact with Serena Williams, who is in full training and plans to return in 2022,” he said. “An extraordinary athlete and fierce opponent, Serena still has the fire to make and break records.”