Novak Djokovic appears unlikely to play in the Australian Open in January due to the tournament’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The world No. 1 tennis player will “probably” miss the first Grand Slam of the new year, his father Srdjan Djokovic told Serb TV, via BBC Sport.
“Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won’t [play]. I wouldn’t do that. And he’s my son, so you decide for yourself,” he said.
Djokovic, meanwhile, has not yet addressed his father’s comments.
The Australian Open announced that players must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be eligible to compete in the Grand Slam.
Djokovic has chosen to keep his vaccination status private.
“I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry,” he said in October. “People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person. Whatever you say ‘Yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it,’ they will take advantage.”
Djokovic’s father echoed his son’s statements, saying this week, “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 … No one has the right to enter into our intimacy.”
The news came after Djokovic addressed the 2022 Australian Open earlier this month.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” he said about whether or not he’ll participate, following an upset loss to Alexander Zverev in the semifinals of the ATP Finals on Nov. 20.
Djokovic — who is currently playing in the Davis Cup for Serbia, which is in the quarterfinals — has won the Australian Open nine times, including the last three at Melbourne Park.
Fellow top-ranked tennis star Rafael Nadal is set on playing at the Australian Open. Meanwhile, Roger Federer will miss the tournament as he recovers from another knee surgery. The three are tied for most Grand Slam titles (20) among men.
The Australian Open begins on Jan. 17.