Novak Djokovic will be allowed to defend his title at Wimbledon despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton gave Djokovic the go-ahead on Tuesday, adding jabs were not required to enter Britain.
World No.1 Djokovic, missed the Australian Open in January after being deported because he was not vaccinated against the illness caused by the coronavirus that has led to the deaths of millions during the pandemic that began in 2020.
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During the annual spring briefing ahead of Wimbledon, which starts on June 27, Bolton said “whilst, of course, it is encouraged” that all players get vaccinated, “it will not be a condition of entry to compete” at the grass-court grand slam tournament this year.
The 34-year-old Djokovic, in addition to being unable to defend his championship at Melbourne Park after an 11-day legal saga over whether he could remain in Australia, had to sit out tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami because he couldn’t travel to the United States as a foreigner who is unvaccinated.
The US Tennis Association has said it will follow whatever governmental rules are in place regarding COVID-19 vaccination status when the US Open is held starting in late August.
Djokovic has said he got COVID-19 twice – once each in 2020 and 2021 – is tied at 20 with Roger Federer for the second-most grand slams for a man. They trail Rafael Nadal, who won his 21st at the Australian Open.
Six of Djokovic’s trophies came at Wimbledon, including victories each of the past three times the tournament was held – in 2018, 2019 and 2021. It was not held in 2020 because of the pandemic.
After what happened in Australia, Djokovic said he would be willing to sit out other grand slam tournaments if getting vaccinated was a requirement to compete.
The next major is the French Open, which begins on May 22, and tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said last month there was nothing preventing Djokovic from defending his 2021 title in Paris.
Officials for the Italian Open, a clay-court tune-up for Roland Garros, also have said Djokovic can play there next month.