Fed-up star's solution to Djokovic 'circus'

4 months ago 107
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Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has called for COVID-19 vaccination to become mandatory on the professional tennis circuit.

Players are not required by the International Tennis Federation to be vaccinated.

But the issue reached tipping point on Sunday - the day before the 2022 Open kicked off in Melbourne - when men's world No.1 Novak Djokovic was kicked out of the country by the Australian government.

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Djokovic has refused to publicly disclose his vaccination status and it was feared he would only feed anti-vaccination rhetoric in Australia, where the issue has been escalating for months, particularly in Victoria's capital.

Azarenka - who won the Open in 2012 and 2013 - sits on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) council and was asked about potentially mandating the vaccination on tour.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand in her second round singles match against Jil Teichmann of Switzerland during day three of the 2022 Australian Open. (Getty)

"I believe in science. I believe in getting vaccinated," she said.

"That is what I did for myself. I don't want to push my beliefs onto everybody else, however, we are playing a global sport."

The Djokovic circus turned into a farce when he was granted an exemption by Tennis Australia, only to then have his visa cancelled by the federal government - a decision which was supported by three federal court judges upon a Djokovic appeal.

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Other professional tennis players were denied entry to Australia, or have in recent months agreed to get the vaccine after initially being hesitant.

Azarenka wants the professional tennis bodies to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine and make it a black and white decision moving forward.

"This (Djokovic saga) could have been prevented, this could have been addressed way earlier than it was," she said.

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"What happened after, I don't think there was anybody who looked good in any case. That became a bit of a circus.

"I think there should be a really hard look on this situation moving forward. I think that as soon as there is a grey area in the rules that give too much questions, situations like this happen.

"On certain things I think black and white approach is necessary and in my opinion, this should be the case."

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