Novak Djokovic’s father compares Australian Open vaccination warrants to ‘blackmail’ casting further doubt on his presence
The father of the world number one called the Australian Open vaccination warrants “blackmail” adding that Djokovic “probably” will not attend the tournament if conditions do not change.
Novak Djokovic’s father has lashed out against the Australian Open vaccination warrants, comparing the rules to “blackmail”.
Srdjan Djokovic also suggested that his son would “probably” not attend the first Grand Slam of the year if the vaccination requirements remain.
“Of course he would like to go with all his heart,” Srdjan told Serbian television station Prda.
“Because he’s a sportsman and there are a lot of our people, the (Serbian) diaspora, there who would love to see Novak.
“But I really don’t know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it’s done like that.
Victorian Tourism and Sports Minister Martin Pakula responded to the claims saying it was simply a matter of keeping the community safe.
“Getting vaccinated is about being responsible to the community you live in. For the health of others and for businesses, which need the economy to stay open,” he wrote in an article on social networks.
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“For visiting tennis stars, it’s about responsibility to the community that welcomes you. In this case, Victoria.
“It’s not blackmail.
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has confirmed that vaccination is a requirement not only for all players, but also for officials and fans participating in the tournament.
“We would love to see Novak here, but he knows he needs to be vaccinated to play,” Tiley said at the tournament launch.
“We spoke to Novak and his team and they clearly understand that in order to come and play at the Australian Open they need to be fully vaccinated.
“They know it’s a condition for everyone, not just the players, but the fans and all the staff and he had indicated that it was a private decision for him and at the right time he will tell us.
“I know he wants to play, he’s made it clear and he knows the conditions he would have to go through to be able to play.”
The comments cast doubts on the presence of the world number one, with Djokovic so far refusing to disclose his vaccine status.
Djokovic has previously said vaccination status is a personal matter, but Mr Tiley remains hopeful the nine-time Australian Open champion will attend.
“I know he wants to play, he has made it clear and he knows the conditions he will have to undergo to be eligible to play,” he said.
If Djokovic attends the tournament, he will be looking to distance himself from Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who all hold the record for most Grand Slam titles with 20.
Mr Tiley said Djokovic was the only player to have indicated he would not participate due to vaccination requirements.
“The playgroup, they responded very well to that, there was no backlash from the playgroup,” he said.
“No one at this point has said he won’t come… no one at this point has said that and we don’t expect anyone to say that.”