Victorian government rejects “blackmail” claims by Novak Djokovic’s father over Australian Open vaccine mandate

Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula says Novak Djokovic will not be “blackmailed” by Australian Open organizers because of their COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Pakula responded to comments from Novak Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, who claimed that his son “probably will not” participate in the Australian Open because of the tournament organizers’ vaccine attitude.

Australian Open organizers confirmed last month that all players must be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to compete at the major in January.

Srdjan Djokovic – speaking on Serbian television earlier this week – said the stance meant “blackmail”, but Pakula rejected the proposal.

“If you’re a visiting international tennis player or a visiting athlete of any kind, it’s about your responsibility to the community you are welcomed into,” Pakula said.

“And that’s why we’re asking international tennis stars to follow the same requirements that Victorians do.

“I would like to make it clear that I really hope Novak Djokovic gets vaccinated and plays in the Australian Open, but if he chooses not to do so, it is a matter for him.”

Novak Djokovic has refused to disclose his vaccination status.

The men’s world number one position is expected to become clearer over the next fourteen days when registrations for the Australian Open close.

Tennis player celebrates victory with his trophy.
Djokovic is defending men’s singles champion in Melbourne.(AP: Mark Dadswell)

The 34-year-old has won nine Australian Open men’s singles titles and is defending champion.

He shares the record with 20 major singles titles for men with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The Australian Open begins at Melbourne Park on 17 January.

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