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Djokovic’s Aussie Open blow as stars told get Covid jab or don’t play


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ovak Djokovic’s Australian Open title defence in Melbourne is in doubt after the state of Victoria announced athletes must be vaccinated to compete in major events there.

The world No1, level on 20 Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, declined to reveal his vaccination status again this week and said he was unsure if he would defend his Australian Open crown in January as authorities work out Covid-19 restrictions for the tournament.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday he was opposed to special arrangements to let competitors who had not had the Covid jab take part.

“On the question of vaccination, no,” he told a media briefing. “(The virus) doesn’t care what your tennis ranking is, or how many Grand Slams you’ve won. It’s completely irrelevant. You need to be vaccinated to keep yourself safe and to keep others safe.”

Tennis Australia, who organise the Grand Slam, declined to comment.

Victoria, which is due to exit a near three-month lockdown this week, recently included professional athletes in a vaccine mandate covering millions of “authorised workers”, without clarifying whether it applied to athletes from overseas or other Australian states.

Andrews suggested the mandate covered international athletes, too.

“Professional sport is part of those (items on the) authorised worker list and they have to be double-dose vaccinated,” he said.

Andrews said Victoria’s stance could be a “moot point”, given the federal government might not issue visas to unvaccinated athletes.

“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,” he added.

“I don’t think that the person you indicated (Djokovic) or any other tennis player, let’s not personalise it … or golfer or Formula One driver will even get a visa to get here.

“If I’m wrong I’m sure the federal government will let you know.”

The federal government’s home affairs department was not able to provide immediate comment.


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