Novak Djokovic will need to be double vaccinated to play Australian Open, says Immigration Minister

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Australia’s immigration minister announced on Wednesday that all players seeking a visa to compete in the Australian Open must be completely vaccinated for Covid-19, putting Novak Djokovic’s title defence and Grand Slam record bid in jeopardy.

Djokovic, who shares 20 Grand Slam championships with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, has declined to confirm his vaccination status and has stated that he is doubtful if he will defend his Australian Open title.

Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke clarified Australia’s visa rules, saying that overseas players would need two vaccine shots to compete in the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in January.

“You’ll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia. That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

“I don’t have a message to Novak. I have a message to everybody that wishes to visit Australia. He’ll need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke said.

Despite improving vaccination rates, the rule might exclude a large number of players from the event.

According to recent media sources, at than 65 percent of professional men’s ATP tour players are vaccinated, and at least 60 percent of professional women’s WTA tour players are.

Players on both tours have been asked to be vaccinated, although some have expressed doubts.

Although their vaccination status is unknown, Russian men’s U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev and German world number four Alex Zverev have expressed reservations about the shot.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world number three from Greece, indicated in August that he would only get vaccinated if it became required, but that he wanted to get vaccinations before the end of the year.

Greg Hunt, Australia’s health minister, stated that the country’s policies were in place to protect Australians.

“They apply to everyone without fear or favour. It doesn’t matter whether you are number one in the world or you are anything else,” he told a media conference on Wednesday.

Non-citizens and non-permanent residents have been barred from entering Australia for the next 18 months, with a few high-profile exceptions.

Australian people are likely to be able to travel internationally within weeks, with tourism projected to restart in early 2022.

Authorities in Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open, said they would not provide any special accommodations for unvaccinated athletes, even if they had obtained visas to enter the country.

Due to an outbreak of the extremely infectious Delta variant, Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, has been locked down since August. It will reopen on Friday, when 70 percent of the adult population in Victoria is likely to be fully vaccinated.

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