Novak Djokovic to play in Dubai after vaccine controversy: Reports

Unvaccinated world number one Novak Djokovic has signed up to compete in the Dubai ATP tennis tournament next month, according to reports on Wednesday, after his expulsion from Australia prevented a tilt to a world-record 21st title. Grand Slam.

A leaked entry list shared by tennis journalists on social media and picked up by multiple outlets showed Djokovic as the top seed for the February 21-26 event.

The 34-year-old Serbian lost a legal battle to stay in Australia and defend his Australian Open crown this month in a Covid controversy that captured headlines around the world.

Djokovic’s next moves are unclear since he left Melbourne to return to Belgrade, via Dubai, as the tournament he has won a record nine times kicked off in Melbourne.

The pandemic has proven damaging to the all-time tennis great, who staged a series of Superspreader tournaments in 2020 and was pictured without a mask at an awards ceremony a day after testing positive in December.

He was initially granted an exemption to play by Tennis Australia despite his unvaccinated status, but Australian authorities revoked his visa in a decision that was ultimately upheld by the Federal Court.

Djokovic, who shares the record of 20 major titles with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, now faces dwindling opportunities to add to his run with Roland Garros host France, barring unvaccinated athletes and New York, home of the US Open, also under strict virus rules.

Vaccination against the coronavirus is not mandatory to enter the United Arab Emirates, where 100% of residents have received at least one vaccine.

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