Novak Djokovic: Wimbledon champion can defend title as organisers allow unvaccinated to play

Novak Djokovic: Wimbledon champion can defend title as organisers allow unvaccinated to play
Novak Djokovic can defend his Wimbledon title after organisers said players who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to compete.

The Serbian world number one, 34, was not allowed to play at the Australian Open in January following a row that centred around him being unvaccinated.

“The requirement set out by the government to enter the UK does not include mandatory vaccination,” All England Lawn Tennis Club chief executive Sally Bolton told a news conference.

“Therefore, while it is of course encouraged, it is not a condition of entry.”

Wimbledon takes place from 27 June to 10 July.

After the high-profile saga around the Australian Open, which ended with him being deported because of his Covid status, Djokovic then missed other tournaments including Indian Wells and Miami because of coronavirus rules for entry to the United States.

During that period he also lost the world number one ranking to Russian Daniil Medvedev but has since reclaimed it and has been back at tournaments with many countries relaxing their entry requirements regarding vaccination.

Djokovic reached his first final of the year last weekend, losing to Russian Andrey Rublev in the Serbia Open in Belgrade.

Djokovic, who has won 20 Grand Slam titles, told the BBC in February he would rather miss out on future tennis trophies than be forced to get a Covid vaccine.

Novak Djokovic: Wimbledon champion can defend title as organisers allow unvaccinated to play
Related Topics: Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon Championships, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Australian Open, Daniil Medvedev, Grand Slam of tennis, COVID-19, Russia

Novak Djokovic can defend his Wimbledon title after organisers said players who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to compete.

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The Serbian world number one, 34, was not allowed to play at the Australian Open in January following a row that centred around him being unvaccinated.

“The requirement set out by the government to enter the UK does not include mandatory vaccination,” All England Lawn Tennis Club chief executive Sally Bolton told a news conference.

“Therefore, while it is of course encouraged, it is not a condition of entry.”

Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic will be allowed to defend Wimbledon title
The All England Club confirmed Tuesday that players who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus will be allowed to play at Wimbledon this year, meaning six-time champion Novak Djokovic can defend his title when play begins June 27.

Djokovic missed this year’s Australian Open in January after having his visa canceled by that country’s government, both because he was not vaccinated and because he had expressed anti-vaccine sentiment. But vaccination against the coronavirus is not required to enter Britain and “will not be a condition of entry to compete” at Wimbledon, All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton said Tuesday, adding that vaccination was merely “encouraged.”

Djokovic has since missed two high-profile tournaments in the United States because he was not allowed into the country as an unvaccinated foreigner, a rule that could block his participation in the U.S. Open later this year. Organizers of the French Open, the next Grand Slam tournament on the tennis schedule, have said that unvaccinated players like Djokovic can participate so long as the pandemic has not gotten out of control in France.

In February, the top-ranked Djokovic said he would rather skip Grand Slam tournaments — slowing his quest to match Rafael Nadal’s 21 career major titles — than get vaccinated against the coronavirus, calling it “the price that I am willing to pay.” He added that he is not opposed to vaccinations but instead prizes “the freedom to choose what you put into your body.”

Also Tuesday, All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt defended the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine, a move that has been condemned as discriminatory by players, including Djokovic, and the governing bodies of both men’s and women’s tennis.

“It is not discrimination in the form that is being said,” Hewitt said. “It is a considered view reached as to what is the right and responsible decision in all circumstances.”

Russian reporters also will be banned from covering the tournament, and the club still is deciding whether to allow Russian coaches and support staff to accompany foreign players to Wimbledon.

Last week, Djokovic called Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian players “crazy.”

“I will always condemn war. I will never support war being myself a child of war,” Djokovic, who is Serbian, told reporters at the Serbia Open in Belgrade.

“I know how much emotional trauma it leaves. In Serbia we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans, we have had many wars in recent history. However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon. I think it is crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”

Novak Djokovic and unvaccinated players to be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this summer
Djokovic is reigning champion at Wimbledon, having followed victories in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019 by beating Matteo Berrettini last July; The world No 1 was denied a chance to defend his Australian Open title in January due to his unvaccinated status
Wimbledon organisers have said players unvaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to play in this year’s tournament, clearing the way for Novak Djokovic to compete.

The world No 1 missed the Australian Open in January due to his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with the Australian government deporting Djokovic after revoking his visa.

Djokovic said earlier this year he would be willing to skip tournaments if he was required to be vaccinated, although Wimbledon officials confirmed on Tuesday the Serb will be able to compete without having to do so.

 

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