Get the shot! WTA to inform reluctant players about Covid vaccine after stars Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka join Novak Djokovic by voicing concerns about receiving vaccine
- Women’s top players will be urged by their governing body to take a vaccine
- The WTA Tour will make efforts to train some of the best stars in the game
- The move follows a significant number of them admitting they were reluctant
- Matter pushes for a sport like tennis, which transcends international boundaries
The world’s leading tennis players will be urged by their governing body to take a Covid vaccine, despite many having doubts about getting one.
The WTA Tour will make efforts to ‘educate’ some of the game’s best stars, with a significant number of them, often from Eastern European countries, admitting to being reluctant.
The issue is particularly urgent for a sport like tennis, which crosses international borders almost weekly and faces major logistical challenges in managing travel and the mingling of competitors.
Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka (above) expressed concerns at this week’s Miami Open
Some men are also concerned about taking the vaccine, especially Novak Djokovic. At this week’s Miami Open top 10, Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka and male counterparts Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman were among those who expressed concerns.
A spokesperson for the WTA Tour made their position clear, admitting there could be no coercion.
“The WTA believes in and will encourage everyone to get a vaccine,” she said. This will help protect the person who received the vaccine, those who have not been vaccinated, and allow our world to return to a place of normalcy desired by all.
Having said that, the WTA will not require players to receive a vaccine as this is a personal decision and one that we respect.
Some will apparently require some persuasion.
World No. 1 Ash Barty has no qualms about it and her parents are lining up to get a shot
World number 8 Sabalenka, from Belarus, said: ‘So far I don’t really trust it. It’s hard to say, but I don’t really want mine yet.
“They just made it really quick and there wasn’t enough time to test it and see what can happen.”
Svitolina, from Ukraine, added: ‘I was thinking about getting the vaccine, but a few of my friends said I should wait a little longer to see how it goes as there have clearly been some cases with side effects. I’ll think about it. ‘
Men’s World No. 8 Rublev is also uncomfortable about the prospect: “If you ask me if I can choose and I can have the option of not getting a vaccine, I won’t do it,” he said.
However, opinions are divided and there are plenty of players willing to accept it. World No. 1 Ash Barty, from Australia, said she would have it and her parents are lining up to get a shot.
Reigning champion of the US and Australian Open Naomi Osaka was unequivocal.
‘I plan to buy one. For me, I feel when I qualify, ”she said.
Novak Djokovic, world number 1, is one of the male players who has raised concerns about the vaccine
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep from Romania received her vaccination a month ago and was pleased to have a photo taken to encourage others to come forward, stating: ‘It’s in everyone’s interest so I decided to get vaccinated . ‘
Djokovic caused quite a stir in April last year when he stated that he was against vaccinations. However, after a strong reaction to his initial statements and a rebuke from Serbian health authorities, he has become more cautious on the matter.
The Miami event has been exhausted by big name withdrawals and tennis faces more uncertainty as the circuit winds across Europe for the clay and clay court seasons.
As an experienced tour insider pointed out, vaccinations will become a serious issue for players should governments decide to introduce Covid passports that allow travel in and out of countries.
At this point, it seems unlikely that they will come before Wimbledon, which plans restrictions on players’ movements.
“ATP recommends COVID-19 vaccination based on scientific evidence that supports the health benefits and protections offered,” said an ATP Tour spokesperson.