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Novak Djokovic set to defend Wimbledon title; COVID-19 vaccination not mandatory

Novak Djokovic will be permitted to defend his Wimbledon title after organizers at the All England Club stated players will not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to compete at the tournament.

Djokovic was barred from playing at the Australian Open in January because of his unvaccinated status, which also prevented him from playing tournaments in the United States last month.

But All England Club CEO Sally Bolton revealed that unvaccinated players can compete at Wimbledon, and they will not need to quarantine on arrival ahead of the tournament, which begins June 27.

“The requirements set up do not include mandatory vaccination,” Bolton said at a news conference on Tuesday. “It will not be a condition of entry for the championships this year.”

Players will also be allowed to book their own accommodations, rather than staying together in the same hotel, as they did in 2021.

Djokovic will also compete at the French Open at Roland Garros as he looks to win his 21st Grand Slam to draw level with Rafael Nadal.

Attention will then turn to the grass-court season, where Djokovic will be competing for what he hopes will be his seventh Wimbledon title.

Organizers also said that banning Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s championships was the only viable option under the guidance provided by the British government.

The AELTC took the decision in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it was swiftly condemned by the men’s and women’s tours.

AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt said the government guidance did not allow players to compete at the tournament based on their rankings and there were two available options: declining entries, or allowing entries but only with specific written declarations from individual players.

“We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances,” Hewitt told reporters, adding that they are in regular discussions with the ATP and the WTA.

“And that within the framework of the governance position, there’s no viable alternative to the decision we have taken in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.”

The move marks the first time players have been banned on the grounds of nationality since the years immediately following World War II, when German and Japanese players were excluded. Wimbledon is also the first tennis tournament to ban individual competitors from the two countries; among those banned are men’s world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia and women’s world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

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