Novak Djokovic still facing Australian Open ban as Victoria Premier refuses to back down

Tennis: Djokovic slams critics after Australian Open win

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Novak Djokovic may still be banned from the Australian Open despite a leaked email giving hope to unvaccinated players. The WTA Players Council sent the message to players after a call with Tennis Australia, telling them players could still compete without a vaccine as long as they completed a 14-day hotel quarantine. However, the Victorian Premier has stood by his previous statements on introducing a vaccine mandate for players.

Djokovic was already the favourite to win the Australian Open in January, and would make history if he won the title, which could give him a record 21 Grand Slam singles titles for a male player.

However, his participation in the season-opening Major tournament has been in doubt as government ministers look to introduce a vaccine mandate, which the world No 1 has spoken out against.

The nine-time champion in Melbourne was given hope as a leaked email sent by the WTA Players Council revealed plans for unvaccinated players to be allowed to compete as long as they completed a two-week ‘hard’ hotel quarantine.

Now, the Victorian Premier has doubled down on his stance over requiring both doses of the vaccine to get a visa into the country, in light of the leaked email.

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“You try getting into the US… most of Europe, really, so many different parts of Asia if you haven’t been vaccinated,” Daniel Andrews told ABC Radio.

“Like, you’re just not getting a visa. Why would that be different here?”

The Premier had already recently said he thought it was “unlikely” unvaccinated players would be given a visa into the country.

The leaked email from the WTA Players Council said current plans allowed both vaccinated and unvaccinated players to arrive in Australia any time after December 1, though nothing has been finalised and the government still sound keen to ban those who aren’t fully vaccinated.

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Andrews pointed out that all tournament personnel and spectators needed to be fully vaccinated to enter the tournament grounds, and didn’t think it was a big ask to expect the same of competitors.

He continued: “I don’t think it’s too much to say, ‘If you want one of those visas and you want to come here, then you need to be double-vaxxed’.

“All the people who are watching the tennis at the Australian Open, they’re going to be double-vaxxed, all the people that work there are going to be double-vaxxed.

“It stands to reason that, if you want to get into the country to be part of that tournament, then you should be double-vaxxed as well.”

Djokovic has expressed his beliefs against disclosing his vaccination stance in the past, and admitted he was uncertain about competing as the prospect of requiring both doses of the vaccine came to light.

Speaking to Serbian newspaper Blic, the 34-year-old said: “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.

“It is a private matter and according to our law, whoever asks you, you can in some way charge him for asking you. That is an inappropriate question.”
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