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Novak Djokovic’s Father Slams Australian Open Vaccine 'Blackmail'

Novak Djokovic’s Father Slams Australian Open Vaccine 'Blackmail'

Srdjan Djokovic has called the Australian Open's vaccine requirements for participating players as "blackmail".

Hannah Blackiston

Hannah Blackiston

World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic probably won't compete in next year's Australian Open due to what his father, Srdjan Djokovic, has referred to as 'blackmail' vaccine requirements.

Djokovic has declined to say whether he has received the vaccine and has instead called it a 'private' matter.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said all players must be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to take part in the event.

Srdjan Djokovic told Serbian television program TV Prva that his son's involvement in the tournament will depend on how the Australian Open 'positions themselves'.

"He would want it with all his heart because he's an athlete, and we would love that too," Srdjan said.

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

He also spoke about his son's decision to keep quiet on his vaccination status, saying even he didn't know if his son was vaccinated.

"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," he said.

"Everyone has the right to decide on their health. Whether he is vaccinated or not, that is his exclusive right. Will he publish it, I don't think so. I don't know that decision either, and if I did, I wouldn't share it with you. He has the right to decide as he wants."

He went on to address Tiley directly, questioning the decision to only accept 'recognised vaccines'.

"What is a recognised vaccine, Mr. Craig? Russian vaccine is not a recognised vaccine? According to our criteria, only Chinese and Russian are recognised," Srdjan said.

"The libertarian world has 90 per cent of the world's population. For us, it is Russian and Chinese. Recognise them along with your vaccine. I don't think that's right, because you don't recognise Russian and Chinese.

"Not accepting this or that vaccine is ridiculous, not to say another word. We will never divide vaccines or peoples wherever anyone comes from. 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."

Srjdan Djokovic also took umbrage with the use of hotel quarantine, which was initially considered as an option for unvaccinated players, but has since been ruled out.

"Quarantine, right, but one should spend 14 days in a hotel room and not even come out in the hotel lobby. Well, they came up with a great idea, let them play in the tournament then," Srdjan Djokovic said.

Tiley has previously said he's been in communication with Novak Djokovic's team about the player's vaccination status.

"We have been speaking to Novak Djokovic's team and Novak and the team understand clearly that in order to come and play the Australian Open they'll need to be fully vaccinated," he said.

"I know that he wants to play it, he's clearly indicated that and he knows the conditions that he'd have to undergo in order to be eligible to play."

Both Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have been clear on the need for players to be vaccinated.

Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open winner and the defending champion. Roger Federer is recovering from knee surgery and has said he won't attend the event. He, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic are all tied with 20 singles majors each.

"I know that he wants to play, he's clearly indicated that, and he knows the conditions that he would have to undergo in order to be eligible to play," Tiley said of Djokovic.

"Entry in here will be determined by around early to the middle of December on the entry deadline, so you'll know when a player's entered an event.

"So in the next couple of weeks, you will have a really good indication of where everyone's at because at that point there's an official list of who's going to be here."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Tennis, Tennis news, vaccine, Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, Australia, Covid-19