World number one Novak Djokovic, who is still under a Covid-19 vaccination status, will not take part in the ATP Cup (1-9 January in Sydney) according to media reports. This means that his start at the Australian Open in Melbourne, which was already considered firm, appears to be called into question again.
The Serbian newspaper “Bleach” reported, Saturday, that Djokovic decided, according to a “close source”, to miss the ATP Cup. The 34-year-old is still in Belgrade, taking care of his establishment, training and spending time with family.
The ATP Cup is the start of the new season, and the Australian Open will be in the program from January 17th. Djokovic has won the title nine times, most recently three times in a row. With another success, he will celebrate his 21st major title and become the only record holder.
It now appears unclear if the 34-year-old will ever be in Melbourne. Two weeks ago, the organizers of this year’s first major confirmed its participation. Australian Open coach Craig Tiley said on Wednesday he was unsure if Djokovic would compete at Melbourne Park. According to “Bleach”, the Serb can in any case announce his final decision before the end of the year.
Australian media speculated that Djokovic could apply for a waiver. Since only fully vaccinated players are allowed to participate in the tournament, this also applies to the support staff and other companions. Tennis Australia had previously emphasized that every athlete must meet the strict requirements of the health authorities. “This includes an approved vaccination certificate or a valid medical exemption that has been approved by Australian health authorities,” the umbrella organization said, according to local media.
“Medical exceptions do not have a loophole”
Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino said there were a limited number of reasons behind the exemption. “Everyone is looking forward to the Australian Open and everyone who will attend — spectators, players, officials and staff — is expected to be fully vaccinated. Those are the rules. And, according to ABC, medical exceptions are just a loophole for top tennis players,” Merlino explained. Medically under exceptional circumstances when you have an acute illness.”
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