Earlier this month, the Australian Open called on Novak Djokovic to have his doctor supply the vaccine to his players. Djokovic, who was out of action after the birth of his son, has been open about his illness and is apparently done with vaccinations. A letter from the Australian Tennis Association, also signed by the medical directors of the other Australian Open competitors, listed the list of anti-viral and Hepatitis B shots that players needed to have to compete in Melbourne.
“As a personal statement, I want to apologize to the Australian public,” Djokovic said. “I felt as though I deserved better from health coverage.”
On Thursday, the Australian Sports Commission said that it had contacted Djokovic personally and arranged a meeting to discuss the matter with him. Now, the high-profile sports minister, Bridget McKenzie, has chimed in, saying that she would not support Djokovic being “blackmailed” into having his back injury treated.
“Every doctor does his job as he or she sees fit to treat our athletes,” she told the Financial Review. “If a sporting organization does not take its role to safeguard the health of our athletes seriously, it shouldn’t exist.”
McKenzie then went on to defend herself against the criticism, arguing that athletes who suffer an injury before a tournament had other options than to carry them out on site. “We have a very hard time telling people their back should be looked after,” she added.
Djokovic has said that he was overstating the concerns and that he is determined to get fit for a possible return in January, although doctors have not commented on his health status.