Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam bid could be derailed past Australian Open after ATP warning

Tennis: Victoria lockdown bans fans at Australian Open

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Novak Djokovic may find life on tour difficult beyond the Australian Open if he doesn’t get vaccinated. The ATP Tour has warned players who aren’t double jabbed that competing in events next year will be tough and come with harsher restrictions. It comes after talks of a vaccine mandate for the opening Grand Slam tournament of the 2022 season.

Djokovic has been in doubt for next year’s season-opening Grand Slam as Australian government ministers look to implement a vaccine mandate.

The world No 1 has been outspoken against mandatory vaccinations on the tennis tour, and recently admitted he may not travel to Melbourne for the Australian Open as he refuses to disclose his vaccination status.

If Djokovic did miss the first Grand Slam of 2022, he would not be able to compete for a record 21st Major title, but would have the opportunity to make history again later in the year.

However, the ATP Tour has now communicated with players to warn them that unvaccinated players will be looking at more obstacles to entering and playing in tournaments.

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In an email sent to players and coaches, revealed by Tennis Majors, the Tour “strongly recommend” players get fully vaccinated.

While the ATP Tour ruled out making vaccines mandatory, they will be ‘supporting’ governments and local public health authorities who make vaccination mandatory, and told players to expect many countries and airlines to do the same.

Tennis Majors also revealed restrictions for unvaccinated players outlined by the ATP for both the ATP Tour and the ATP Challenger Tour, including:

  • Unvaccinated players will be subject to more testing than their vaccinated counterparts.

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  • Unvaccinated players may have to contribute to the cost of the additional testing.
  • Vaccinated players will continue to be exempt from being called a close contact when someone close to them tests positive.
  • Unvaccinated players who test positive for Covid-19 before an event, or who are deemed a close contact of someone who tests positive – and have to withdraw – will not receive “prize money compensation”.
  • The cost for isolation after a positive Covid-19 test will not be paid by the ATP.
  • Transport for unvaccinated players may be increasingly restricted.

The ATP added: “We hope this update helps inform any decisions players are looking to make related to vaccination in the coming weeks.”

It comes after a leaked email sent from the WTA Players Council to players on the WTA Tour revealed that Australian Open organisers were hopeful unvaccinated players could compete if they underwent a two-week ‘hard’ hotel quarantine.

However, Australian newspaper The Age said the leaked email could become a “setback” in plans to allow unvaccinated players into the country.

The ATP also told players they would give more updates about restrictions for the Australian Open when the government and tournament organisers confirm their plans.
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