Novak Djokovic welcomed by Wimbledon days after boycott claims and despite vaccine status

Wimbledon: Martina Navratilova ‘devastated’ by ban

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World No 1 Novak Djokovic has been welcomed to Wimbledon after tournament organisers confirmed unvaccinated players will be cleared to compete. The news comes just days after Wimbledon announced Russian and Belarusian players will be banned from playing at the 2022 edition of the Championships, which has been condemned by many.

The Serbian star missed the Australian Open in January due to his unvaccinated status amid the pandemic. The Australian government deported Djokovic after sensationally revoking his visa. 

Earlier this year, Djokovic said he would be willing to skip tournaments – including Wimbledon – if vaccination against Covid was necessary to compete. However, Wimbledon officials confirmed on Tuesday that players do not require vaccination to play at the Championships this summer.

Sally Bolton, the chief executive of the All England Club, said: “The requirements set out by government to enter the UK do not include mandatory vaccination, therefore whilst of course it is encouraged, it will not be a condition of entry to compete at the Championships this year.”

It appears Djokovic will now be able to defend his title this summer, having won Wimbledon for a sixth time after defeating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in last year’s final. The 34-year-old also won the tournament in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019. 

Djokovic last week condemned this summer’s Championships over the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing, including World No 2 Daniil Medvedev. Speaking at last week’s Serbian Open, Djokovic said: “Ordinary people always suffer – we’ve had lots of wars in the Balkans. 

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“That being said, I cannot support the Wimbledon decision. It’s not the athletes’ fault. When politics interfere with sport, it usually doesn’t turn out well.”

Some people, including former Croatian star Nikola Pilic in particular, thought he could boycott Wimbledon after his recent comments but now he is set to compete.

Djokovic will also be cleared to compete at the French Open after Roland Garros organisers in Paris dropped all Covid restrictions. Wimbledon is scheduled to run from June 27 to July 10.

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