Australian Open tournament director dodges question about Novak Djokovic and vaccine issue

Tennis: Victoria lockdown bans fans at Australian Open

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The Australian Open tournament director refused to speak on final plans for unvaccinated players at January’s season-opening Grand Slam, while at the announcement of Australian tennis icon Dylan Alcott’s retirement. It comes after the Victorian Premier doubled down on his stance against allowing unjabbed players into Melbourne for the tournament, leaving the likes of nine-time champion Novak Djokovic in doubt to compete.

There have been uncertainties over the rules for unvaccinated players at the upcoming Australian Open for several months.

Ministers have been open about their plans to implement a vaccine mandate for the tournament, as all arrivals into the country must be fully vaccinated.

However, it was revealed in a leaked WTA Players’ Council email that tournament organisers were still hopeful that players who hadn’t been jabbed could still play, provided they underwent a two-week hotel quarantine upon arriving in Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also admitted this was an option as professional tennis players could be granted an exemption, but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has spoken out multiple times to confirm he would not apply for players to be exempt from vaccination rules.

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Now, Tennis Australia chief and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has refused to answer questions on plans for unjabbed players at January’s Grand Slam.

A vaccine mandate could see world No 1 Djokovic banned from the tournament, as the Serb has previously ruled out revealing his vaccination status and even admitted he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to travel and compete in the season-opening Major.

Tiley shut down questions about restrictions for the Australian Open on Tuesday (November 9), as he attended Dylan Alcott’s retirement announcement.

“I just want this to be about Dylan today and then I’ll take any of those questions another time,” the tournament boss said, when asked about the possibility of unvaccinated players being granted exemptions to enter Victoria.

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However, Tennis Australia chief did admit that more information would be given at next week’s official launch of the Australian Open, though it would not necessarily be all of the final details.

His comments come as Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, once again reiterated his stance against exemptions for professional tennis players.

Also speaking on Tuesday, the state premier said: “”I’m not going to have people sitting in the grandstands having done the right thing, only to have millionaire players that ought be vaccinated running around the place being essentially at such higher risk of spreading this – getting it and giving it.”

Novak Djokovic is one of the high-profile names who could be absent from January’s Australian Open if players are required to show proof of full vaccination to enter the country.

Last month, he told Serbian newspaper Blic: “I don’t know if I’m going to Australia, I don’t know what’s going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all.

“I have my opinion and it has always been the same. I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not.”

Meanwhile, the likes of Dominic Thiem has already confirmed he is vaccinated ahead of the Australian Open.

Players including Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev have also shared their plans to get jabbed over the upcoming off-season, in time to travel to Melbourne.
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