With the current debate surrounding vaccinations dividing the tennis world, Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas has posted a cryptic message on Twitter regarding the controversy ahead of the Australian Open.
Organisers of the tennis tournament, held each January at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, have made the controversial decision to only allow players that have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Fans and staff will also be banned if unvaccinated.
"Everybody got an opinion about things they know nothing about," tweeted the world number four cryptically, who has previously been reprimanded by the Greek government regarding his COVID statements.
Everybody got an opinion about things they know nothing about.
— Stefanos Tsitsipas (@steftsitsipas) December 1, 2021
In August, the Greek government reminded the 23-year-old athlete that he is not a scientist after he said: "I personally know some people who have had them. I'm not against it, I just see no reason for someone in my age group to need to be vaccinated."
"He does not have the knowledge and studies to assess the need for vaccinations," said a representative for the Greek government, Giannis Oikonomou at the time.
"Stefanos Tsitsipas is a great athlete; his skills in sports and his contribution to sports in the country is unquestionable.
"What is at stake, however, is his ability to assess the need for vaccinations or whether the vaccine has been tested for a sufficient period of time. And ... he has neither the knowledge nor the studies nor the research work that would allow him to form an opinion about it."
Meanwhile, world number one Novak Djokovic has refused to reveal his vaccination status in the lead up to the Australian Open, with uncertainty growing over whether he will be present for the tournament.
Appearing on Serbia's Prva television last weekend, Djokovic's father Srdjan Djokovic proceeded to go on a mammoth rant against Australian officials, equating the rules requiring players to become vaccinated to "blackmail", adding that the world's top-ranked player would probably pull out of the tournament.
Speaking to the press on Friday following Serbia's 2-1 defeat by Croatia in the Davis Cup semi-finals, Djokovic assured them that they would "very soon" know of his decision as to whether or not to attend the Australian Open
"I know what you want to ask but I am not going to give you an answer tonight," said 34-year-old Djokovic who has repeatedly declined to reveal whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Obviously, Australia is just around the corner, so you'll know very soon.
"I will use the next days to recover and forget about tennis. I am really tired from this season and this whole year. I need some family time now and we'll see what the future holds," he added.
According to Australian Open director Craig Tiley, up to 95% of players will be vaccinated against COVID-19 in time for January's tournament, with 'one or two players having medical exemptions from vaccination which followed Victoria's health rules.
"Today, more than 85% are [vaccinated]," said Tiley, referring to the vaccination status of the professional tennis players.
"And we take a lot of credit for that because we put a vaccination requirement on it. We think by the time we get to January, it will be between 90-95% vaccinated because if you're not, you cannot play."
Swiss superstar Roger Federer announced that he had received the Pfizer vaccine in May, while his great Spanish rival Rafael Nadal encouraged players to take the vaccine to "rid the sport of the COVID' nightmare."
Qualifying begins on January 10 2022, with the full Australian Open Tournament kicking off a week later and concluding on January 30 2022.