Nov 20, 2021 - Sports

Australian Open to require players to be vaccinated against COVID

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates against Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the men's singles final during day 14 of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Feb. 21. Photo: TPN/Getty Images

The Australian Open will require tennis players to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus for the tournament in January, tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed in an interview, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The requirement concludes months of "mixed messages from Australian government officials" on whether or not to implement a vaccine mandate, the Times writes.

  • The announcement also comes as Novak Djokovic, the No. 1-ranked men's tennis player, declines to disclose whether he is vaccinated. The nine-time Australian Open champion had said he would wait for the tournament's policy before making a decision on whether to participate, per the NYT.
  • Tiley said around 80% of the player cohort were vaccinated and would play in front of capacity crowds, per Reuters.

Flashback: Melbourne, where the tournament takes place, has been considered the "world's most locked-down city" with some of the strictest COVID-19 measures in the world.

Of note: The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam tournament to implement a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

What they're saying: “All the staff working the Australian Open will need to be vaccinated, but when we’re in a state where there’s more than 90 percent of the population fully vaccinated — they’ve done a magnificent job with that — it’s the right thing to do," Tiley said, per NYT.

  • “(Novak) has said that he views this as a private matter for him," Tiley said, per Reuters. "We would love to see Novak here, he knows that he’ll have to be vaccinated to play here.”
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