Novak Djokovic title defence clarified as Wimbldeon chiefs provide update on Covid and Russia players

Novak Djokovic will be allowed to defend his Wimbledon title this summer after All England Club officials confirmed players will not be required to be vaccinated to compete at the tournament.

By Eleanor Crooks
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 2:31 pm

The world number one, who defeated Matteo Berrettini to win his sixth Wimbledon crown last year, has played only three tournaments in 2022 because of entry restrictions imposed by various countries, including his deportation from Australia.

With most nations relaxing their rules around the virus, though, Djokovic should be free to play a full schedule through the clay and grass-court stretches, although he is currently still unable to enter the USA.

Speaking at Wimbledon's spring briefing, chief executive Sally Bolton said: "As you will be aware, the requirements set out by government to enter the UK do not include mandatory vaccination and, therefore, while of course it is encouraged, it will not be a conditional entry to compete at the Championships this year."

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Novak Djokovic will be allowed to defend his Wimbledon title after All England Club officials confirmed players will not be required to be vaccinated to compete at the tournament this year

Last year's Covid-related restrictions, which included reduced crowds for most of the tournament and strict conditions imposed on the players, will all be lifted.

Meanwhile, chairman Ian Hewitt told the All England Club's spring briefing that the UK Government left Wimbledon with "no viable alternative" but to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year's Championships.

Expanding on last week's announcement that Wimbledon and the preceding grass-court events would be the first individual tennis tournaments to bar players from the two countries, Hewitt said the club was left with only two options - an outright ban or forcing players to sign declarations condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

He said: "The UK Government has set out directional guidance for sporting bodies and events in the UK with the specific aim of limiting Russia's influence. We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances."

The WTA and ATP have both criticised Wimbledon's decision and are holding meetings in Madrid this week to decide how to react, with removing ranking points from the tournament a possibility.

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