Ash Barty's perfect response to Novak Djokovic vaccination drama

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Ash Barty, pictured here at the US Open.
Ash Barty has weighed in on the debate around Novak Djokovic and vaccinations. Image: Getty

Ash Barty has weighed in on the debate around mandatory vaccinations for tennis players who want to enter the country for the Australian Open in January.

The participation of Novak Djokovic and many more top players from around the world is in major doubt after government leaders said tennis players will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to play.

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Men's World No.1 Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal whether or not he has received a jab, having also previously expressed hope the vaccine would not become mandatory for players on the ATP circuit.

According to Barty, everyone has the right to keep their vaccination status to themselves.

But the women's World No.1 said it was a no-brainer for her to get the jab so she could help protect those around her.

“I didn’t feel there was a need for me to tell everyone whether I was vaccinated or not,’’ Barty told the Courier Mail on Saturday.

“I have been vaccinated my whole life.

“I think players are entitled to the end of the day it's part of your medical history. You understand people make decisions for different reasons and you have to respect that.

“From my point of view it’s personal to me. I had my vaccine in April. I was fit and healthy and I was doing it for the people around me to make sure we were safe. 

"There is no judgement for me or necessity for me to see what others have done.’’

Daniel Andrews, pictured here speaking to the media in Melbourne.
Daniel Andrews said unvaccinated tennis players won't get a visa to enter Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Questions about Djokovic's return to Melbourne Park, where he would be hunting a 10th Australian Open title, came to the fore recently when Victoria introduced a vaccination mandate for professional athletes.

Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday that unvaccinated sports stars would be unlikely to receive a visa, making the domestic restriction a moot point.

And on Wednesday, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke confirmed there was no prospect of travel rules being relaxed for incoming tennis players.

"Not at this time. Our health advice is that when we open the borders, everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double vaccinated," Mr Hawke told ABC Radio.

"I don't have a message to Novak. I have a message to everyone who wishes to visit Australia, you'll need to be double vaccinated.

"That's a universal application, not just to tennis players."

Question marks over Novak Djokovic for Australian Open

Djokovic, who is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on a men's record 20 grand slam titles, said on Monday he was unsure whether he would be playing at Melbourne Park.

"I will not reveal my status, whether I have been vaccinated or not. It is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry," Djokovic told the online edition of Serbian daily Blic.

"People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person.

"Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam tournament.

"I am following the situation regarding the Australian Open and I understand the final decision (on COVID-19 related restrictions) will be made in two weeks.

"I believe there will be a lot of restrictions just like this year, but I doubt there will be too many changes."

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the past three editions, and would almost certainly be favourite if he plays in 2022.

The 34-year-old hasn't played since the US Open in August, where his bid to complete the calendar slam - winning all four majors in the same year - was ended by Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Djokovic said he plans to compete in the Paris Masters, the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and the Davis Cup before the end of 2021.

with AAP

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