Novak Djokovic to Play in Australian Open, Organizers Say


The No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic will participate in the Australian Open in January, the Grand Slam tournament’s organizers said on Wednesday. The announcement came after weeks of speculation about whether Djokovic would travel to Australia because of vaccine requirements.

The Australian Open included Djokovic in its main draw entry list for the summer tournament.

“Defending champion Djokovic will play for an incredible 10th Australian Open trophy — and a men’s record 21st major singles title — and will be the favorite in a draw which showcases 49 of the world’s top 50,” a statement said.

The announcement followed one a day earlier by the ATP Cup tournament, which will be held in Sydney as a precursor to the Australian Open, that listed Djokovic among its attendees.

Djokovic could not immediately be reached for comment.

Australia has placed a temporary two-week ban on international arrivals because of the Omicron variant. Before that, the government announced that some categories of visa holders would be allowed to freely enter the country if they were vaccinated. Officials placed caps on the number of unvaccinated travelers who could enter the country per week, and they were required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

The Australian authorities have said that any players participating in tournaments in the country must be vaccinated.

In October, Djokovic, the reigning champion and a nine-time winner of the Australian Open, told a Serbian news outlet that he might not attend the Australian Open because he would not reveal his vaccination status.

Last week, Mr. Djokovic’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, said that his son was unlikely to participate in the tournament “under these blackmails and conditions.”

Novak Djokovic’s remark in October set off rounds of contradictory statements between Australian government ministers and tournament organizers about entry requirements for international visitors.

The local news media reported on speculation that Tennis Australia, which hosts the Australian Open, would seek medical exemptions for unvaccinated players. The organization has denied those claims.

James Merlino, the deputy premier of Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, said in response to the rumors, “Medical exemptions are just that — it’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players.”



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