As the Australian Open approaches, Nick Kyrgios has added to the debate around vaccination by suggesting that “I don’t think it’s morally right” to allow players who haven’t had the jab to fly into Melbourne for the tournament.
Kyrgios’s position – as so often with him – has not been entirely clear-cut. His latest message came only hours after he had made supportive comments about unvaccinated players on a podcast.
But Kyrgios isn’t alone in his latest sentiments. In an interview with the Spanish daily Marca, published on Monday, Rafael Nadal had also argued that “people who do not want to be vaccinated are a little bit selfish”.
The Australian Open promises to be a flashpoint in the tennis vaccination debate, although it is still unclear how tough the tournament’s rules will be.
There is a backstage arm-wrestle going on between Tennis Australia – who want unvaccinated players to be able to play, as long as they undertake a two-week hard quarantine – and the state government, who believe that those players shouldn’t be allowed to enter Victoria at all.
Last year’s men’s finalists – Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev – have both declined to confirm whether they have received the vaccine or not.
Kyrgios’s stated views on the subject have ping-ponged back and forth at speed. On Monday, he told listeners to his podcast “No Boundaries” that the Australian Open should be cancelled to avoid any extra risk to the people of Melbourne.
He went on to add, somewhat uncharacteristically, that it would be unfair to pressurise players into being vaccinated in order to attend the tournament.
“Kyrie, Novak … these guys have given so much, sacrificed so much,” Kyrgios said, in relation not only to Djokovic but to Kyrie Irvine, the Melbourne-born basketballer who was unable to play in the NBA because he hadn’t been vaccinated.
“They are global athletes who millions of people look up to,” Kyrgios continued. “I just think it is so morally wrong to force someone to be vaccinated.”
It wasn’t long, however, before Kyrgios had changed his stance again. “To say that I’d want the Australian Open cancelled, I think that was the sentence that got taken out of context” he explained on Tuesday in an Instagram post.
“It’s more so for the people of Melbourne who have gone through hell and back,” Kyrgios added. “I think it’s been … nearly 300 days of lockdown and your freedom has been, you know, taken away from you. I don’t think it’s morally right to accept players from overseas that aren’t vaccinated to come into our country.”