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Djokovic has stolen a lot of headlines in 2021. This is mainly thanks to his superhuman on-court achievements. But as the 2021 season wraps up, one huge question remains unanswered. Will Djokovic be playing at the 2022 Australian Open? For those who haven’t followed the story, let me quickly fill you in. The Australian Open has announced that unvaccinated players will not be allowed to compete. How does this relate to Djokovic?
Well, he hasn’t publicly claimed whether he is vaccinated against COVID-19 or not. In fact, his comments have led people to believe that he isn’t. Now, if he isn’t, that could mean that he is ineligible to compete due to his vaccination status. In the grand scheme of things, with Rafa, Federer, and himself all on 20 slams, that could be significant.
However, more has come to light in recent times that I believe shows us the answer.
The facts and indicators as they stand
Djokovic has been incredibly elusive when responding to questions about his vaccination status. Then again, I can’t say this is amazingly surprising. He is very much an ‘alternative’ character when it comes to medicine and other things. And from what I’ve read, he feels he is being put in a corner regarding competing at the event. Again, this is understandable, but to be honest – I feel he is going to compete for the following reasons:
He is chasing history
Djokovic isn’t just going for another Grand Slam win. The guy is chasing history – all the more so with his nearest rivals tied on 20 slams each. So it isn’t just another Grand Slam for Novak Djokovic, it’s a tournament that could seal his status as the GOAT. I have a feeling that this motivation will drive him to find a way to compete, even with the current measures. He also has a fair amount of influence with the powers that be for the ATP!
There are exemptions in place
Over the last week or so, the Australian Open has announced that exemptions do exist. There is a list showing what circumstances the tournament would allow an unvaccinated player to compete. While I won’t run through them all, they involve instances where a player has experienced an adverse reaction to the first jab, if COVID itself and/or the jab has caused any cardiac issues, and more. New exemptions could well be added too, we will all just have to wait and see.
His impact on the tournament’s profile
Let’s not kid ourselves, Djokovic is still the star attraction of the ATP circuit. He draws in the fans, viewers at home, and subsequently, he pulls in massive revenue for the event. For these reasons alone, the man is invaluable to the tournament’s success. Sure, there are still great players heading down under to compete, but nobody is on a par with Djokovic. I say this in terms of his tennis capabilities, mental strength, sheer competitiveness, and his popularity with fans in Australia.
So all in all, I really do feel that we will see Djokovic at the Australian Open in January.