Victoria Azarenka has lent for support for a clear ‘no jab, no play’ policy on the tennis circuit.
The Belarusian’s comments come in the wake of Novak Djokovic’s deportation after a seesaw saga erupted when the world No. 1 arrived in Australian unvaccinated. Czech WTA player Renata Voracova also had her visa stripped for the same reason.
Speaking after her 6-1 6-2 win over Jil Teichmann in the Australian Open second round, Azarenka called for a vaccine mandate in tennis.
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"I believe in science. I believe in getting vaccinated," said Azarenka, who next meets 15th seed Elina Svitolina.
"That is what I did for myself. I don't want to push my beliefs onto everybody else, however, we are playing a global sport."
The Djokovic saga finally reached its conclusion on Sunday after his last-ditch visa appeal was rejected on the eve of the tournament.
A protracted case had seen his initial visa cancelled despite a medical exemption, re-approved by a judge, then revoked again by Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke. His legal team managed to get a second appeal into court but Djokovic lost.
He also risks missing the French Open in May after the French government said athletes must be vaccinated to compete.
Azarenka said the situation with the Serb became “a bit of a circus” and that a “black-and-white approach” would help avoid a repeat.
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Azarenka - Teichmann - Australian Open Highlights
"I don't believe that this was something that just came out of nowhere. This could have been prevented," she said.
"This could have been addressed way earlier than it was at this point. What happened after, I don't believe there was anybody who looked good in any case. That became a bit of a circus.
"I think there should be a really hard look on this situation moving forward. I think as soon as there is a grey area in the rules, that gives a bit too much questions, and situations like this happen.
"On certain things I think black-and-white approach is necessary. In my opinion, this should be the case."
When asked if professional tennis should have a ‘no jab, no play’ policy, Azarenka continued: “If you ask me just for my opinion if that should be the case, I think it would just be helpful for everybody in the world, especially when we are travelling internationally.
“If you're home and you don't travel and you just remotely can safely do the measurements, the social distancing, all the precautions that are been introduced to us, I think that's one thing. In our case I think this is what has been recommended, and that's what I believe is the right thing to do."
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