Novak Djokovic

‘It’s not blackmail’ – Australian minister refutes father of Novak Djokovic

The claims from Srdjan Djokovic of ‘blackmail’ against Novak about the Australian Open are false according to the Victorian sports minister.

The father of the 20-time Slam champion has backed his son on his stance regarding vaccination and has criticised Australian officials for theirs.

“He has the right to decide as he sees fit,” Srdjan told TV Prva. “But given this blackmail and these conditions, Novak will probably not play the Australian Open.”

Srdjan’s provocative accusation of blackmail has now prompted a response from Martin Pakula, the sports minister for the state of Victoria, where the Australian Open will take 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 told Australian press.

“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.”

All essential workers within the state, including professional athletes, must be fully vaccinated, a stipulation that extends to those wishing to compete at the 2022 Australian Open.

Nine-time champion Djokovic has not publicly disclosed his vaccination status, and it does not look as if he will be given an exemption by Australian officials if he is indeed unvaccinated.

“I want to make it clear that I really hope that Novak Djokovic gets vaccinated and plays in the Australian Open,” Pakula added.

“But if he chooses not to, that’s a matter for him.”

Should Djokovic not play the event, it would end a streak of 17 appearances stretching back to his debut in 2005.

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