As of: 04/26/2022 5:02 p.m
World number one Novak Djokovic is allowed to start at the lawn gymnast in Wimbledon without being vaccinated against the corona virus. Organizers defend exclusion of Russian and Belarusian players.
May compete in Rome unvaccinated: Novak Djokovic.
Image: Darko Vojinovic/AP/dpa
Vaccination is not a requirement for participation in the third Grand Slam tournament of the year from June 27 to July 10, said Sally Bolton, managing director of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).
Djokovic is the defending champion
Djokovic has won the title six times at Wimbledon, most recently last year. Bolton stressed that they would encourage professionals to get vaccinated. The British government would also no longer require this for entry.
“We plan to return to a normal tournament this year,” said Bolton. “Therefore we will not implement any of the Covid-19 measures of the past year in any substantial form.”
Expelled from the country in Australia
The 34-year-old Djokovic was unable to defend his title at the Australian Open at the beginning of the season because he was expelled from the country due to the lack of vaccination. For this reason, he was also not admitted to the American tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami.
At his home tournament in Belgrade, Djokovic had recently lost in the final. There are also no corona rules in the way of a start in Rome and at the French Open.
No alternative to Russia exclusion
Despite the great criticism, the organizers see “no alternative” to excluding Russian and Belarusian players this year. This was underlined by All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt, who defended the decision.
“We’ve looked at the various options extensively,” said Hewitt. This included allowing Russian and Belarusian players who made a statement distancing themselves from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
However, the organizers saw the danger that the successes of the players from the affected countries could be “used by the Russian propaganda machine”. Or that the professionals could put themselves or their families at risk by distancing. “We believe that we have made the most responsible decision possible,” said Hewitt, speaking of a “really extraordinary and tragic situation”.
Not only professionals like Djokovic and Germany’s number one Alexander Zverev had clearly criticized the decision – the player organizations ATP and WTA also classified the measure as “discriminatory” (ATP) and “deeply disappointing” (WTA).