Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula has dismissed Srdjan Djokovic's claims that Novak Djokovic is being blackmailed by the Australian Open organizers over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The Australian Open announced only fully vaccinated players will be able to compete at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic has refused to reveal his vaccination status and he didn't want to confirm his participation at the Australian Open. Pakula is hoping Djokovic plays at the Australian Open but he acknowledged that the health and safety of Victorians comes at first place.
"If you're a visiting international tennis player or a visiting sportsman of any kind, it's about your responsibility to the community that you are being welcomed into," Pakula said, per Australian Broadcast Corporation.
"And that's why we are asking those international tennis stars to follow the same requirements as Victorians are. "It's not about blackmail, it's about making sure the Victorian community is protected.
"I want to make it clear that I really hope that Novak Djokovic gets vaccinated and plays in the Australian Open, but if he chooses not to that's a matter for him."
Djokovic likely to skip the Australian Open, per his father
"It was embarrassing because of the announcement of those rulers in the provinces of Australia, who gave themselves the right to call out nine-time champion of Australia.
Whether he will appear there depends on them how they will position themselves. He wants to play because he is an athlete, and we would love that too. Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won't play at AO. I wouldn't do that.
And he's my son, so you figure out for yourself if he is going to play or not," Srdjan told Prva TV. Djokovic is a record nine-time Australian Open champion and he has won the tournament's last three editions. Not having Djokovic at the Australian Open would be a major blow for the tournament organizers.