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Djokovic fans thrilled as unvaccinated World No.1 cleared to defend Wimbledon title

Novak Djokovic will be free to defend his Wimbledon title after the All England Club confirmed Covid-19 vaccinations will not be needed to compete in this year's Championships.

tennis Novak Djokovic fans thrilled as unvaccinated World No.1 cleared to defend Wimbledon title snt
London, First Published Apr 26, 2022, 5:31 PM IST

In what has kindled massive excitement among Novak Djokovic fans, the All England Club confirmed that Covid-19 vaccinations would not be required to compete in this year's Wimbledon Championship, paving the way for World No.1 to defend his title.

Chief executive Sally Bolton confirmed the ruling while adding that packed capacity crowds will return to the championships after two disrupted years.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner, Djokovic, who has abundantly made it clear that he is not vaccinated against Covid-19, was barred from defending his title at the Australian Open earlier this year and was deported from the country by the government.

The 34-year-old Serbian ace will also compete in next month's French Open after organisers in Roland Garros, Paris, dropped all Covid-19 restrictions.

Djokovic has bagged the Wimbledon men's singles title six times, including last year when he defeated Italian Matteo Berrettini in straight sets. 

Also read: 'Crazy' Wimbledon ban on Russian, Belarusian players irks Djokovic and tennis lovers

The 2020 Wimbledon Championships were cancelled amid the pandemic, while the 2021 edition took place in front of restricted crowds until the semi-finals. This year's tournament will take place between June 27 and July 10. The relaxation of the rules also allows players competing to move more freely around London during the tournament.

Djokovic fans are pleased to learn that their favourite star will feature in yet another Grand Slam this year. This news comes months after the Serb gave a shocking interview to the BBC. He stated he is willing to forgo titles but not get himself vaccinated against the virus. Here's a look at some of the reactions on the micro-blogging site Twitter:

Meanwhile, Chairman Ian Hewitt added that Wimbledon was left with 'no viable alternative' but to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year's Championship. He said, "The UK Government has set out directive guidance for sporting bodies and events in the UK with specific aim of limiting Russia's influence."

"We have considered at length the options available. These are in effect two options: declining entries or allowing entries but only with specific declarations (against the invasion of Ukraine) from individual players," Hewitt added.

"We considered a wide variety of factors. After lengthy and careful consideration, we came to two firm conclusions," he remarked.

"First, even if we were to accept entries (from Russian and Belarusian players) with written declarations, we would risk their success or participation being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which we could not accept," he stated.

"Second, we have a duty to ensure no actions should put players or their families at risk. We understand and deeply regret the impact this will have on all the people affected," Hewitt added.

"We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible. We believe (given Government guidance) there is no viable alternative in this truly exceptional and tragic situation," he concluded.

Also read: Will it be Djokovic vs Nadal in Rome again? Decks cleared for Serb to play Italian Open

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