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Tennis Officials From Both the ATP and WTA are Encouraging Players to get Vaccinated Against Covid

Andrey Rublev of Russia reacts during the Men’s singles match against Marin Cilic of Croatia at the Miami Open tennis tournament in Miami Gardens, Florida, USA, 30 March 2021. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

By Alix Ramsay

Both the men’s and women’s tours have responded to the players’ mistrust and antipathy towards to the Covid-19 vaccines and are actively encouraging them to have the jab if it is offered.

The ATP has gone as far as to change the “bubble” restrictions for those who have had the full course of vaccinations. Those players will be on an “exempt list” and cannot be considered as a close contact of anyone who tests positive for the virus during a tournament. That, then, means that they will not be forced into self-isolation if there is an outbreak of Covid at a tournament. Neither will these players have to go into isolation on arrival (usually for 12 to 24 hours until they return a negative Covid test).

The “pro-vax” stance by the tours comes after several players expressed their misgivings when asked at the Miami Open if they would have the jab if it were to be offered. Their reasons for not having the Covid vaccine ranged from a general dislike of vaccinations to one bizarre – and unproven – medical argument.

Andrey Rublev could not see the point of the jab. “I know for the moment now it doesn’t really give you any privilege,” he said before the ATP had revised its protocols. “You still have to be in the bubble. So it doesn’t give you any privilege. I never had any problems with my health. So we’ll see. If I have option to don’t do it, I prefer to don’t do it.”

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in action against Ashleigh Barty of Australia during their semi-final Women’s singles match at the Miami Open tennis tournament in Miami Gardens, Florida, USA, 01 April 2021. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

Elina Svitolina simply did not trust the new vaccine. “OK, you will reduce your symptoms if you get it [Covid],” she said “but still, there is a chance that you can get it. So for now, it makes almost, like, no sense to do something that has been tested for such a short period of time. For me, I will probably wait for now.”

And then there was Aryna Sabalenka who was sure the jab would mess with her DNA. “So far I don’t really trust it,” she said. “It’s tough to say, but I don’t really want it mine yet, actually, and I don’t want my family take it.

“There is the two [vaccines], and I want to take the one I think is more expensive and the one is not going to your genetic stuff. There is like two different types of vaccine, and, yeah, I have to think about it. I have to speak with my doctors and see which one is better for me.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in action against Ashleigh Barty of Australia during their Women’s singles match at the Miami Open tennis tournament in Miami Gardens, Florida, USA, 30 March 2021. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

“But for now, I don’t really trust it. For sure I don’t want my family make it. If I will have to do it, I will really think twice.”

However, the WTA does not need to work on Naomi Osaka. Throughout the pandemic, the world No.2 has shown herself to be intelligent, informed and unafraid to speak out about matters she regards as important. When it came to the question of whether she would get herself vaccinated, she was brief and to the point: “I’m planning on getting one. For me, I feel like whenever I’m eligible, I guess,” she said.