Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has responded to reports that Novak Djokovic has changed his mind and is planning on getting vaccinated following Rafa Nadal's Australian Open title.
The unvaccinated Djokovic was deported from the country on the eve of the Australian Open after having his visa cancelled.
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Djokovic then moved to clarify a number of reports surrounding his medical exemption, which he was under the impression would grant him access to Australia.
The World No.1 came under heavy scrutiny after it was revealed that he had tested positive in December, particularly after he attended an interview with French sports outlet L'Equipe while knowingly infectious, without telling the reporter or photographer.
But after sitting at home and watching Nadal claim a historic 21st grand slam title, taking him one clear of Djokovic and Roger Federer, the World No.1 may have had a change of heart
On Wednesday, Djokovic's official biographer Daniel Muksch claimed Nadal's triumph has prompted Djokovic to change his anti-vaccination stance.
The news has made worldwide headlines and Australia's Federal Health Minister Hunt has encouraged the idea, which would set an example for others unsure about getting vaccinated.
“If in some small way as a country we’ve encouraged Novak or any other individual to do that, that’s great"
Health Minister @GregHuntMP says he's "delighted" to hear unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic might get the COVID-19 jab. pic.twitter.com/e76oaJ0XgJ
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) February 2, 2022
“Look, I’m happy for anybody anywhere to be vaccinated and if in some small way as a country we have encouraged Novak or any other individual to do that then that’s great,” Hunt said on Sunrise on Thursday morning.
“But you know what’s much more important?
“I think that will encourage more people who have been hesitant to be vaccinated and that would be the real win out of this.
“I hadn’t heard that. I’m delighted if that is the case.
“But to everybody, doesn’t matter where you are, whether you are overseas or in Australia, first dose, second dose, booster, everything you are eligible for, it will help protect you. Please come forward.”
Novak Djokovic faces uncertainty on tour
Djokovic's biographer Muksch, who wrote A Lifetime At War, said watching Nadal create history could be a deciding factor if the World No.1 decides to get vaccinated.
"Maybe the final in Melbourne also contributed to that," Muksch reportedly told Serbian TV.
"Rafael Nadal's 21 is driving him, no question. What you hear from his environment, I think he's getting vaccinated."
Djokovic will be severely limited in the events he is allowed to play if he remains unvaccinated.
He is scheduled to play in Dubai at the end of the month, with the tournament one of the few that allows unvaccinated players to participate.
Dubai doesn't have the same strict conditions for entry as Australia, and Djokovic will be able to compete at the tournament he's won five times previously if he produces a negative PCR test result when he arrives.
Djokovic's return to action in February is doubtless going to be one of sport's show-stopping events following all the dramas of the past month.
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