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29 Nov, 2021 08:55

Djokovic's dad makes Russian vaccine claim, warns ‘blackmailed’ champ will skip Australia

Djokovic's dad makes Russian vaccine claim, warns ‘blackmailed’ champ will skip Australia

Tennis icon Novak Djokovic's father has warned that the champion will "probably" not play at the Australian Open in January – because he has been "blackmailed" during his Covid vaccination saga.

World number one Djokovic has repeatedly refused to disclose whether he is vaccinated or not, while politicians in Australia and tournament director Craig Tiley have reiterated that only vaccinated players will be welcomed at the first Grand Slam of 2022.

Now Djokovic's father, Srdjan, has sounded a typically bullish note over speculation that the reigning champion and most high-profile name in tennis could be forced to skip his defense if he cannot prove his vaccination status.

"As far as vaccines and non-vaccines are concerned, it is the personal right of each of us whether we will be vaccinated or not," said Djokovic senior, speaking to B92 while echoing his son's view that people have been taking "the liberty" to ask him whether he has been jabbed.

"No-one has the right to [breach] that intimacy; it is guaranteed by the constitution. Everyone has the right to decide on their health.

"[Whether or not he is] vaccinated, that is his exclusive right. Will he publicize it? I don't think so.

"I don't know [what] decision [he has made on being vaccinated] either, and if I did, I wouldn't share it with you. He has the right to decide as he wants."

The Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, warned Djokovic in October that his titles would not spare him being subject to the rules.

"It was embarrassing because of the announcement of those rulers in the provinces of Australia who gave themselves the right to call out the nine-time champion of Australia," fumed his father.

"Whether he will appear there depends on them how they will [behave]. He would want it with all his heart because he is an athlete, and we would love that too.

"Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won't. I wouldn't do it. And he's my son, so you decide for yourself."

Speaking earlier this month, Tiley said tournament organizers "have been speaking to Novak Djokovic's team", adding that the superstar's entourage "understand clearly that in order to come and play the Australian Open they'll need to be fully vaccinated."

"What is a recognized vaccine, Mr [Tiley]?" Srdjan asked. "It is not a recognized Russian [one]?

"According to our criteria, only Chinese and Russian [vaccines] are recognized. The libertarian world has 90 percent of the world's population.

"For us, it is Russian and Chinese. Recognize them and your vaccine... I don't think that's right, because you don't recognize Russian and Chinese.

"You have to accept [the] fact [that] not accepting this or that vaccine is ridiculous, not to say another word.

"We are part of the world and vaccines are part of the world wherever they come from.

"They all made vaccines to help this world but whoever does not accept to be vaccinated, that is his personal right."

Djokovic also acknowledged that his son could face the prospect of being quarantined in a hotel room for 14 days in similar scenes to the ones witnessed at the tournament last year by players.

Play is scheduled to being in Melbourne on January 17.