Players will have to be fully vaccinated to participate in the upcoming Australian Open, with Tennis Australia Chief Executive Officer Craig Tiley hopeful that men’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will be competing.
“It’s been made very clear when the Premier announced several weeks ago that in order to participate at the Australian Open, to come into Victoria, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated,” Tiley told Australian TV station Channel 9’s “The Today Show,” referring to Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews.
“Immediately, we communicated that to the playing group. It is the one direction that you take that you can ensure everyone’s safety,” added Tiley as preparations for the first grand slam of the 2022 season get underway in Melbourne.
“All the playing group understands it. Our patrons will need to be vaccinated, all the staff working the Australian Open need to be vaccinated. But when we’re in a state where there’s more than 90% of the population fully vaccinated … it’s the right thing to do.”
Djokovic, who has not revealed his vaccination status, has won the Australian Open men’s singles title a record nine times.
The 34-year-old Serbian, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have won 20 major singles titles each.
“We’re expecting Novak to come,” said Tiley. “The good news is that most of the tennis players, both on the men and the women’s side, are fully vaccinated.
“Novak, as he’s previously said, that’s a private issue for him … He’s always said that the Australian Open is the event that puts the wind in his sails, so I hope we get to see Novak.”
In late October, an ATP spokesperson told CNN that player vaccination rates are “currently at approximately 65%.” A WTA spokesperson told CNN – also in late October – “at the current point in time, over 60% of WTA players are vaccinated.”
Tiley said crowd capacity at the Australian Open, which runs from January 17-30 in 2022, will be at 100%.
The Tennis Australia CEO also was asked about Peng Shuai.
Peng, who is one of China’s most recognizable sports stars, has not been seen in public since she accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex at his home, according to screenshots of a since-deleted social media post dated November 2.
“The very first action that we’ve taken at Tennis Australia is to inquire directly to the tours and about her safety,” said Tiley.
“Whatever resources we’ve had at our disposal, we’ve acted to ensure … she’s safe but also to send a message that we are ready to support and make sure her well being is taken care of.”