Did the Australian Open Rules Change to Benefit Djokovic?

The participation of the number 1 in the ATP ranking at the Australian Open was in doubt because of his position to not talk about vaccination.

Novak Djokovic

In the case of sport, some have shown their position in favor of vaccines and others have openly declared themselves against them. Photo: Flickr- Tatiana Kulitat

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: ¿Las reglas del Abierto de Australia cambiaron para beneficiar a Djokovic?

The Australian Women's Tennis Association informed players looking to compete in 2022 in the first Grand Slam of the year that they could do so without being vaccinated. The only condition would be to keep a mandatory two-week quarantine in a hotel, this according to The Age of Australia. If confirmed, this would open the door to ATP number 1, Serbian Novak Djokovic, whose participation has been in doubt due to the issue of vaccination.

Djokovic and vaccination

Since the approval of the world's first vaccine was announced at the end of 2020, thousands of people wondered if it would be necessary (and mandatory) to get vaccinated in order to continue with their activities such as work, travel, recreation and sports. The answer so far is not absolute, and it has not been without controversy. In the case of sport, some have shown their position in favor of vaccines and others have openly declared themselves against them.

Novak Djokovic has tried to stay out of it, he has not made any comments for or against vaccination. At the same time, he has avoided declaring whether he has already been vaccinated or not, he himself said that it is a private matter and that he does not want to join the controversy generated, this according to Mundo Deportivo. However, in his silence it could be read that he has not been vaccinated, which is why his participation in the big tournaments could be affected, since, although the organizers could be flexible, they depend entirely on the guidelines established by the governments.

Tennis Australia, the governing body of Australian tennis, and the government of the state of Victoria have declared that there is still nothing confirmed about the statement issued by the Australian Women's Tennis Association, it is a decision that still needs to be studied. If approved, allowing unvaccinated tennis players to participate would immediately open the door to the Serbian, a rule that would have a clear dedication to the number 1. The sport is eager to regain its pre-pandemic pace, so leave aside the big stars of the biggest tournaments, such as the Australian Open, would be a step in the opposite direction. However, the dilemma is also found in the very action of modifying a health measure in the current situation just to have sports stars.

You can also read: Kyrie Irving, the Eccentric NBA Player who Refuses to get Vaccinated

Number 1 at the Australian Open

Staying in the world top is never easy in any sport, although Novak Djokovic makes it look easy. The Serbian is a man of remarkable records, suffice it to mention that he is the winner of 20 Grand Slam titles: Roland Garros, US Open, Wimbledon and of course the Australian Open. Actually, he is the maximum winner of the AO with 9 titles obtained in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021, for which he is also the defending champion.

Australia is one of its strongholds, the Serbian has never lost a final in this territory. He has had the luxury of defeating figures such as the British Andy Murray on 4 occasions, becoming the nightmare of the Scotsman who has not been able to be crowned in Oceania. He also beat Spanish Rafael Nadal twice, once against Austrian Dominic Thiem and once against current world number 2, Russian Daniil Medvedev. Djokovic has known how to make use of his experience in Melbourne, so it is understandable the interest of the organizers not to miss the opportunity to have the Serbian in the tournament.

Vaccination, an essential requirement for today's sport

The pandemic severely transformed daily life in the world, we still do not know if it will only be in the short term or if it will take longer. Sport does not escape this dynamic, one of the most notorious changes is the possibility of mandatory vaccination for athletes. In the last edition of the Olympic Games held in Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee did not make vaccination mandatory, but it did make a great effort so that most of the athletes received their vaccine before their arrival in Japan.

Instead, the NFL did "threaten" teams and their players about the harsh penalties that outbreaks would bring due to players not vaccinated and not respecting sanitary measures. This, due to the risk it implies for the health of the other players as well as for the league itself, an outbreak could lead, in an extreme case, into a costly pause in the season. This has become the reality in various sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball and in general in team games.