Victoria Azarenka calls for compulsory vaccination against Covid-19 | Tennis News

NEW YORK: Victoria Azarenka entered the third round of the US Open with a 6-3, 7-6 (1) victory over Italy’s Jasmine Paolini on Wednesday, saying she was happy to play in front of the crowd again at Flushing Meadows, especially vaccinated Fans.
Azarenka qualified for the final last year before losing to Naomi Osaka, but did so in empty stadiums as Covid-19 restrictions barred spectators from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
This year the fans are back, but only those with proof of vaccination and the 18th-seeded Belarusian admitted they didn’t understand why the rules didn’t extend to players as well.
“It was great to be back in front of the fans and especially vaccinated,” said the two-time Australian Open champion, who withdrew from a WTA Tour event in April as it coincided with her vaccination planned against Covid-19.
“To me it’s a little weird that the fans have to be vaccinated and the players aren’t. So I think in my opinion it’s inevitable that it will be mandatory at some point, as does other leagues.
“I don’t see the point in blocking it, because I think we all want to be safe, we all want to keep doing our jobs.”
The New York mayor’s office last week demanded proof of vaccine to enter Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the major hosts his prime-time games.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) then chose to extend the vaccine requirement to all participants aged 12 or older entering the sprawling facility.
The WTA and ATP urged players to get the shot, but some expressed reservations and said the decision was a freedom of choice.
World number three Stefanos Tsitsipas has said he will only get the Covid-19 vaccine if it becomes mandatory to compete in tennis, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Greek government.
World number one Novak Djokovic, who is bidding to end the Grand Slam calendar year at the US Open, said in April he hoped the Covid-19 vaccine would not become mandatory for players and declined to respond questions about their own immunization status.
“I respect everyone’s opinion as long as it’s not a conspiracy theory,” said Azarenka, three-time US Open finalist. “If you actually have some decent knowledge and have done your research and have your facts, statistics and research, that’s a different conversation.
“I hope that as an association we will make the best decision for our business, for our health, for the tournaments, for the public.”

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