Novak Djokovic will be allowed to defend Wimbledon title

Novak Djokovic can now defend his Wimbledon title after organizers decided Tuesday to let unvaccinated tennis players play the tournament. Earlier this year, Djokovic said he would rather miss tournaments than get vaccinated for COVID. 

Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), who runs the tournament, said in a news conference that they don’t plan to enforce any COVID vaccination requirements because there is no such mandate to enter the United Kingdom.

“The requirements set out by the government to enter the U.K. do not include mandatory vaccination, and therefore – while of course it is encouraged – it will not be a condition of entry to compete at the championships this year,” Bolton said. 

She said they’re planning to return to “normal championships” this year, meaning there will be full capacity crowds and players can decide their own accommodations. 

“We don’t intend to implement any of the COVID-19 measures that we saw last year in any substantial fashion, but we are of course keeping it on our radar in case we need to take further action,” Bolton said. 

Serbia Open 2022
Novak Djokovic speaks during the press conference after the final during the Final match of Serbia Open ATP 250 Tournament at Novak Tennis Centre on Sunday in Belgrade, Serbia. / Getty Images

Djokovic, 34, has yet to say whether he will play in Wimbledon, a major tournament has won six times, including last year. The tennis star, who couldn’t play in the Australian Open after being deported over his vaccination status, will play in the French Open since vaccine passports are no longer required in France. He is one major away from tying Rafael Nadal, who has 21 major titles. 

The Wimbledon update also comes after organizers decided last week to ban players from Russia and Belarus, including the world’s No. 2 ranked men’s tennis player, Daniil Medvedev. Tournament organizers on Tuesday continued to defend their decision, which they said was intended to “limit Russia’s global influence” during the war in Ukraine.

“We can recognize that there will be many players that are affected by this and we sincerely hope that the player community will recognize the very challenging position we’re in, the reasons for our decision, and that this is not an easy option,” AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt said. 

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