Novak Djokovic’s father says his son will not be “blackmailed” into revealing his vaccination status and therefore “probably won’t play” the Australian Open.
Only fully vaccinated players will be able to compete at the Melbourne tournament in January, but nine-time champion Djokovic has refused to confirm whether he has received a Covid jab or not.
“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,” Srdjan Djokovic told Serbian channel TV Prva.
“No one has the right to enter that intimacy, it is guaranteed by the constitution. Everyone has the right to decide on their health. 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. He has the right to decide as he wants.”
Asked directly about Novak’s Australian Open involvement, Srdjan said: “It is embarrassing because of the announcement [to make vaccination mandatory] of the leaders of the provinces of Australia, who gave themselves the right to call out the nine-time Australian Open champion.
“Whether he will appear there depends on them and how they will position themselves. He wants to play with all his heart because he is an athlete, and we would love that too. Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won’t play. I wouldn’t do that, and he’s my son, so you figure out for yourself if he is going to play or not.”
Tournament director Craig Tiley on Sunday stated that he expected somewhere between 95 and 100 per cent of eligible players to be vaccinated before the tournament, and there will be no dispensation given to Djokovic or any other player unless they have sufficient medical reasons.
Djokovic currently sits level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the top of the men’s all-time standings with 20 grand-slam victories.
“Novak has made it clear that his status is private and personal to him,” said Tiley. “He’s completely entitled to that position. However, to come into Australia there will need to be certified proof of vaccination. That will be the same for everyone.”
Two international travellers who arrived into New South Wales from southern Africa on Sunday became the first positive cases of the new Omicron Covid variant in Australia.
Tiley said there are “a lot of unanswered questions” about the new variant, but the plan remains for the tournament to begin on January 17.
“We knew when we announced the event that there would be some more challenges - that’s just the nature of the world we’ve been living in for the past two years,” Tiley told Australia’s Channel Nine.
“We’re still waiting. I’ve been talking to the government... there’s still a lot of unanswered questions around this [new variant].
“I think in the next 14 days we will have some clarity, but at this point, the plans are going ahead as they are. We’re looking forward to 100 per cent capacity crowds in January. The first charter flight arrives on the 28th of December. We’re bringing in over 20 charter flights from countries around the world.
“There’s still a lot to play out. There’s a lot of unanswered questions, which we will hopefully get to soon. But at this point, everything is as it was a few days ago.”