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3 Oct, 2021 17:11

Novak Djokovic warned his ‘Grand Slam titles won’t protect him’ from Covid-19 as vaccine row rages ahead of Australian Open

Novak Djokovic warned his ‘Grand Slam titles won’t protect him’ from Covid-19 as vaccine row rages ahead of Australian Open

Nine-time Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic has been warned that his winner's medals won't protect him from Covid-19 as organizers of the 2022 tournament say there will be 'no exceptions' for vaccine hesitant players.

The Serbian great continues to chase the record for the most titles in the men's game but hopes of him carving out his own piece of history at next year's tournament have been thrown into doubt after it was announced that only vaccinated players will be permitted entry to the country ahead of the tournament, which is due to begin in January.

Djokovic is tied with both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as having recorded 20 Grand Slam wins apiece – but Djokovic's repeated dominance in Australia, where he has won three straight championships, is thought by many to be an advantage over his rivals when it comes to breaking the record.

In order for that to become a reality, Djokovic must be double-jabbed against Covid-19 – something that he has expressed reservations over in the past.

"[Grand slam] titles won’t protect you," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said to reporters when asked about Djokovic's stance on the vaccine.

"The only title that will protect you is you being able to have had your first dose and second dose.

"Logic and numerous conversations with the Prime Minister [Scott Morrison] tell me that if you are an Australian citizen, you will be allowed home if you haven’t had the jab.

"But if you’re coming on a tourist visa or a business visa, so you’re not an Aussie – you are coming to visit – the notion of you getting in here without being vaccinated, I think, is very, very low."

The vaccine mandates are thought to have caused concern not just for some players but for organizers also. According to The Age, Australian Open chief Craig Tiley has expressed his concern that any harsh regulations being imposed on the players could force many of them to withdraw and lead to a watered-down version of the event.

Tiley's fears were dismissed by the state government, according to reports.

Also on rt.com ‘It is not acceptable that Novak is always the bad guy’: Tennis great Becker jumps to Djokovic’s defence after US Open breakdown