Djokovic cleared to defend Wimbledon title

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Novak Djokovic will be allowed to defend his Wimbledon title after organisers at the All England Club (AELTC) said that players will not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to compete at the tournament.

Djokovic missed the Australian Open in January due to not being vaccinated, and AELTC CEO Sally Bolton said unvaccinated players will not need to quarantine on arrival ahead of the tournament.

“The requirements set up do not include mandatory vaccination,” Bolton said at a press 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 accommodation, rather than staying together in the same hotel like they did in 2021.

Djokovic will first 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.

Organisers 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 the stand 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 is the first time players have been banned on the grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War Two era when German and Japanese players were excluded.

Wimbledon is also the first tennis tournament to ban individual competitors from the two countries, meaning men’s world No.2 Daniil Medvedev from Russia and women’s world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will be banned from the June 27 to July 10 tournament.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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