Victoria Azarenka slams ‘damaging’ Australian Open quarantine amid Novak Djokovic ban talk

Tennis: Victoria lockdown bans fans at Australian Open

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Victoria Azarenka has slammed the Australian Open quarantine amid threats of a ban for unvaccinated players including Novak Djokovic. Tournament organisers are reportedly in talks with government officials over a potential mandate requiring all tennis players to be vaccinated before being allowed entry into the country and competition. Earlier this year, a number of top players were required to go a 14-day ‘hard quarantine’ in their hotel rooms if someone on their flight tested positive for Covid.

Azarenka was one of the players forced to stay in her hotel room for 14 days, unable to leave the entire time, as someone on her charter flight to Melbourne tested positive for Covid.

All players were required to complete the isolation period in their hotel rooms but were given five hours a day to leave for training on the gym and the practice court, getting food, and travelling to-and-from the hotel.

However, many were outraged when they were told they would not even be allowed to leave for the designated five hours if someone on their flight tested positive for the virus, even if the player in question continued to test negative – a rule competitors said they were unaware of.

The two-time Australian Open champion was one of the players, including the likes of 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu and eventual Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady.

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She has now slammed the quarantine period for being “damaging”, amid talks of a possible ban for unvaccinated players.

“The quarantine helping? The quarantine experience definitely is not helping in no way,” the world No 32 said after reaching the Indian Wells final.

“There is no possible way quarantine in any way has helped me. It only was really damaging. There’s no other way to put it. It was damaging mentally, the end of it. It was damaging physically the most for me.

“I’ve never stopped for two weeks not doing anything. In no way that was helpful.”

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The former world No 1’s remarks come as there has been a threat of a vaccine mandate for those playing the 2022 edition of the tournament, something that has spelt trouble for defending champion Djokovic, who has spoken out against mandatory vaccines in the past.

The world No 1 has already been warned that he would not receive special treatment if the government banned unvaccinated players.

“Grand Slam titles won’t protect you,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said recently.

“The only title that will protect you is you being able to have had your first dose and second dose.”

When asked if mandatory vaccines could become a possibility, the Serb voiced his stance against the idea.

“I don’t think it’ll come to that. I hope not, because I’ve always believed in freedom of choice,” Djokovic told reporters back in April.

“And I will keep the decision as to whether I’m going to get vaccinated or not to myself, it’s an intimate decision and I don’t want to go into this game of pro and against vaccines, which the media is unfortunately creating these days.”
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