In news that we honestly shouldn’t be that surprised by, unvaccinated players will not be allowed to compete at Melbourne’s 2022 Australian Open.

Tournament director Craig Tiley announced the news today and said the tournament hopes that men’s champion Novak Djokovic will be vaccinated so he can compete at the event.

“Novak knows he will have to be vaccinated to be here,” Tiley said, via BBC Sport.

“We would love to have him here.”

Speaking to reporters after his ATP Finals defeat to Alexander Zverev in Turin, Italy, Djokovic appeared to cast doubt on that reality, admitting that now that he’s heard the news he’ll “wait and see.”

“I haven’t been talking to them,” he said via The Guardian.

“I was just waiting to hear what the news was going to be.”

The 34-year-old, who is a nine-time champion at the Australian Open, also mentioned the “freedom of choice”.

“The freedom of choice is essential for everyone, not just whether it’s me or somebody else, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“Whether it’s vaccination or anything else in life, you should have the freedom to choose, to decide what you want to do in this particular case, what you want to put in your body.”

When Zverev was asked about the Australian Open’s mandatory vaccination policy, he admitted that while it’s “a very tough one [to answer] because it’s very political”, ultimately “this is not about tennis, this is about the virus that is going on”.

“We need to follow the rules and follow the guidelines,” he said.

“I hope [Djokovic]’s able to play. I’m number three in the world so, if he doesn’t play, it’s easier to win the tournament – this is obvious!

“Also, he’s number one in the world so he should be there. Hopefully, the Australian government will make an exception for him to be able to participate there.”

Back in October, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews doubted that the state government would allow unvaccinated players into the country so they can compete in the tournament. Fortunately, according to figures reported in the BBC report, 80% of the top 100 men’s players have been fully vaccinated along with “nearly 80%” of the top 100 women’s players.

According to a letter by the WTA player’s council, on top of being fully vaccinated, those that plan to compete in Melbourne will have to show proof they’ve received a negative test result in the 72 hours before they entered Victoria, too.

The 2022 Australian Open runs from the 17th to the 30th of January at Melbourne Park.

Image: Getty Images / [Julian Finney]