Brad Gilbert can’t envision Novak Djokovic or any other unvaccinated player being a full-time player on the Tour. The Australian Open became the first tournament to mandate participants to be fully vaccinated. More tournaments are expected to follow and require players to be fully vaccinated.
“COVID, two years on, is showing no signs of slowing up. The question you’re asking is a very valid question: How are you going to sustain on the Tour?” Gilbert told Tennis Now. “I think there’s going to be numerous countries, if Novak chooses—or any player chooses—to be unvaccinated…I’m not sure how he’s going to get into the States to potentially play Indian Wells and Miami.
How’s he going to get into Canada? “I’m not sure every country if you’re not passing medical exemptions is [going to have] an exemption for COVID. There might be some for irregular heart beat. But it’s going to be a very difficult proposition to be a full-time player being unvaccinated.”
Djokovic was granted a medical exemption
Djokovic’s application to receive a medical exemption for the Australian Open but many believe that’s only a temporary solution for the Serb. “Being unvaccinated] that can be your choice—but to travel and do the things you enjoyed had before COVID, the freedoms that you had, it’s not about having money or not having money, I don’t believe you will have anywhere near the same luxuries,” Gilbert said.
“Right now in Melbourne you can’t get into a restaurant anywhere being unvaccinated—you have to show your vaccination card. It’s the same in a lot of places. So I think those normal liberties that you had and you expect to have you won’t have anymore.
“So I think traveling the Tour being unvaccinated you know maybe you’ll only be able to play a few tournaments in 2022 and maybe by 2023 you won’t be able to play any tournaments”.