'Don't trust it': Tennis players spark uproar with vaccine stance

Aryna Sabalenka (pictured left) shrugging during a press conference and Andrey Rublev (pictured right) during a match.
Both Aryna Sabalenka (pictured left) and Andrey Rublev (pictured right) have shown hesitancy in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, while on Tour. (Getty Images)

The Miami Open continues to dish up a number of heated talking points in the tennis world after a number of high-profile tennis stars have admitted to being hesitant or even dismissing the notion of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine.

This week, both World No.1 Ash Barty and World No.2 Naomi Osaka threw their support behind receiving the vaccine when it was their turn.

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Barty told reporters her family will: "Do what they can to get the vaccine."

Osaka said she was planning on getting on the vaccine when it is her turn.

Simona Halep has already received her vaccine shot as images were shared on social media.

"I wanted to get vaccinated. I came with an open mind and I'm fine," she said.

"I was vaccinated with Pfizer. I'm fine, I haven't had any side effects now. It's for everyone's sake and that's why I decided to get vaccinated."

Tennis stars hesitant over Covid-19 vaccine

But a major talking point at the Miami Open has become how the tennis world will function once the vaccine is rolled out globally.

Reporters have been questioning tennis stars at the Miami Open about their willingness to receive the vaccine as it is rolled out in the nations they are visiting.

Too the surprise of some, a number of tennis players have expressed hesitation.

This included Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman, Aryna Sabalenka, and Elina Svitolina.

“For the moment it doesn’t really give you any privilege,” the in-form Russian Rublev said in a press conference.

“You still have to be in the bubble.

“If you ask me if I can choose and I can have an option, I will not do it.”

Elina Svitolina (pictured) celebrates while playing Ekaterina Alexandrova at the Miami Open.
Elina Svitolina (pictured) has shown some hesitancy when asked about the Covid-19 vaccine. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

World No.9 Schwartzman was hesitant in the press conference, but later tweeted he would get the vaccine when it was his turn.

This sentiment was echoed on the WTA tour.

“So far I don’t really trust it,” Sabalenka said. “It’s tough to say, but I don’t really want it yet and I don’t want my family take it.

“If I will have to do it, then of course I have to do it because our life is a travel life.

“I have to speak with my doctors and see which one is better for me, but for now, I don’t really trust it.

Svitolina added that getting the vaccine made no sense since either way players would be required to quarantine.

Vaccine hesitancy leaves tennis world in limbo

Leading tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg said the tennis tour would need to grapple with many players' uncertainty around the issue.

"Attitudes toward coronavirus vaccines among the five players I asked today were all in the dubious/hesitant/anti spectrum," he wrote.

"Not a single player expressed eagerness to get a vaccine, to put it mildly. Those attitudes are something the tours will need to grapple with, and quickly."

Rothenberg added he would be interested to see if players that had been vaccinated will be afforded more privileges, such as not being in a bubble, once countries complete their rollout.

The debate started last year, when World No.1 Novak Djokovic admitted to being hesitant on taking a vaccine if it was mandatory to play tennis during the coronavirus pandemic.

After the debate erupted at the Miami Open, the WTA has said it will not require players to get a vaccine but wanted to make the benefits of getting a shot clear to everyone.

"The WTA believes in and will encourage everyone to get a vaccine," said the WTA in a statement.

"This will assist in protecting the individual that has received the vaccine, those who have not been vaccinated, and allow our world to move back to a place of normalcy that is desired by all.

"The WTA, with the full assistance of our medical advisors from the Mayo Clinic, have been and will continue to educate our players on the various vaccines along with the benefits of getting vaccinated.

"This being said, the WTA will not be requiring players to get a vaccine as this is a personal decision, and one which we respect."

The WTA's stance is in line with many governments around the world rolling out the vaccine.

with Reuters

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