Novak Djokovic “probably won’t” play the Australian Open in January over mandatory Covid vaccination rules, the world number one’s father said on Sunday, likening the restrictions to “blackmail”.
The 34-year-old Djokovic, who would be bidding for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne, has refused to say whether or not he has been vaccinated against coronavirus.
But Australian Open tournament chief Craig Tiley has said that all players must be inoculated to take part.
“Of course he would want to go with all his heart,” Djokovic’s father Srdjan told Serbian channel Prda TV.
“Because he is a sportsman and there are a lot of our people, the (Serbian) diaspora, there who would be delighted to see Novak.
“But I really don’t know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it’s done that way.”
Srdjan Djokovic also defended his son’s “exclusive and personal right” to be vaccinated or not, and claimed that even he did not know if Novak had received the jab.
Tiley last week revealed that Djokovic “has said that he views this as a private matter for himself”.
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“We would love to see Novak here. He knows that he’ll have to be vaccinated to play here,” he added.
Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, is level on 20 Grand Slam singles triumphs with old rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
He contracted Covid-19 during the ill-fated Adria Tour event he organised in the Balkans in June 2020, but said he did not suffer from any symptoms.
AFCON: Burkina Faso subdues Gabon on penalties to book q-finals ticket
Burkina Faso beat 10-man Gabon on penalties to reach the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon following a 1-1 draw.
Ismahila Ouedraogo netted to give the Stallions a 7-6 win in the shoot-out.
Gabon had Sidney Obissa sent off midway through the second half but grabbed an injury-time equaliser when Bruno Ecuele Manga’s header went in off Adama Guira.
Burkina Faso captain Bertrand Traore had missed a penalty before slotting in the opener in the 28th minute.
The Stallions will face either Nigeria or Tunisia, who meet on Sunday even, in the quarter-finals on Saturday, 29 January.
read also:AFCON: Ex-Man Utd skipper backs Nigeria against Tunisia
A mammoth shoot-out had seen Herve Koffi save from Gabon midfielder Guelor Kanga and Saidou Simpore immediately send his his effort over the bar in the fourth round of penalties.
Abdoul Tapsoba had the chance to win it for Burkina Faso in sudden death after Yannis N’Gakoutou-Yapende had blazed over, but Jean-Noel Amonome denied him.
But substitute Ouedraogo kept his nerve after Gabon right-back Lloyd Palun rattled the crossbar.
It was at times a scrappy encounter in Limbe, marked by several bookings, but also a game which provided moments of quality and drama.
Burkina Faso had spurned several chances to make it 2-0 before the 90 minutes were up in Limbe, but Amonome saved well from Traore, Blati Toure and Guira.
And the Stallions ultimately paid in the 91st minute when Ecuele Manga’s header from Denis Bouanga’s cross deflected in for a dramatic equaliser.
Abdoul Tapsoba had an extra-time goal ruled out for offside against Zakaria Sanogo, and Gabon keeper Amonome saved from Tapsoba and Ouedraogo in the second added period to send the game to penalties.
AFCON: Ex-Man Utd skipper backs Nigeria against Tunisia
Former Manchester United and Three Lions talismanic defender, Rio Ferdinand, has shown support for the Super Eagles of Nigeria ahead of their round of 16 clash against Tunisia.
Nigeria lock horns with the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia as they look to secure their spot in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The Super Eagles have the upper hand, especially in recent times, beating them at the 2019 AFCON to secure bronze in the third-place match.
read also:EPL: Dele Alli axed by Tottenham boss Conte
The Tunisians are also short staffed, as twelve of their players, including their star man Wahbi Khazri.
Ahead of the game tonight, the former Manchester United’s record signing and England legend took to Twitter to show support for the three-time AFCON Champions.
EPL: Dele Alli axed by Tottenham boss Conte
Dele Alli has been axed from Tottenham’s squad to play at Chelsea today as speculation mounts over a transfer to Newcastle.
The out-of-form England international has only featured in six of Antonio Conte’s 15 games in charge.
And he will not be adding to that tally today after the Italian left the 25-year-old at home for the Premier League trip to Stamford Bridge.
Now it seems that Spurs are looking to offload Alli before the January transfer window closes as rumours over a switch to big-spending Newcastle mount.
read also:AFCON: Cameroon Hosts Influx of Football Fans From Gabon, Equatorial Guinea
Atletico Madrid – but they want even more additions to help their survival bid.
We reported yesterday that talks between the two clubs over a deal for Alli had allegedly begun.
And those appear to have been confirmed with Alli’s absence from the travelling Spurs squad today.
Conte is looking to raise funds for an overhaul at Spurs and seems willing to sacrifice Alli for that.
The ace burst onto the scene with his displays as a teenager at MK Dons and earned himself a move to the North London side in 2015.
The step-up failed to phase him as he quickly became one of Spurs’ most-dangerous weapons and was soon rewarded with an England cap.
He continued to flourish under Mauricio Pochettino but his form dipped dramatically under successors Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and now Conte.
And even though his record of 51 goals in 181 appearances is still impressive, it seems Spurs are ready to sell him on and bring in new blood.
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