They are doing this at a time when there seems to be a sense of hesitation about vaccines among some of the major stars in the sport.
World number 2 for women, Aryna Sabalenka, also expressed her hesitation about the Covid-19 vaccination in March, saying: “I don’t really trust it. Of course, I don’t want that. my family take it. If I have to do it do it, I’m really going to think twice before taking it. “
Representatives for Sabalenka did not respond to CNN’s request to see if his position changed ahead of the US Open, where players from the ATP Men’s Tour and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour will compete in the US Open.
In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the WTA said nearly 50% of its players are vaccinated, although it has set a target of 85% by the end of the year.
The spokesperson said the organization “believed in and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated,” but the decision to vaccinate was “a personal decision and one that we respect.”
The ATP Tour, the men’s tennis organization, said its current vaccination rate is “just over 50%”.
In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson said the tour “continues to strongly recommend vaccination to players, based primarily on scientific evidence supporting the health benefits and protection provided,” but the decision for each player to vaccinate remained one of the “free”. choice.”
Wimbledon finalist and four-time ATP Tour winner MaliVai Washington says players are in a privileged position to be able to influence others when it comes to receiving the vaccine.
“When I look at the ATP and WTA tours, the elite international athletes, they can play a huge leadership role right now,” Washington told CNN.
“When I say leaders, these touring athletes, they have a significant influence on a lot of people who follow them and if they’re the advocates, you know, people will say, ‘You know what, I’m going to take another look. on this. I will follow this. If so and so does, maybe it doesn’t matter to me.
“I think they could have a big impact on vaccination rates if, say, a handful of players in the male and female circuits said, ‘Yeah, I just got the shot.'”
However, Washington, which says he’s vaccinated, doesn’t necessarily believe players have a responsibility to use their platforms to publicly advocate for others to get vaccinated.
Rather, he thinks they share the same responsibility as the general public to do so to protect themselves and those around them.
“Each individual is going to see the word ‘responsibility’ differently,” he explains. “Personally, I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to get the vaccine…
“If I was on tour today I would have no problem publicly announcing that I am taking the vaccine and would probably encourage others to do the same.
Earlier this year, 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer revealed he had been vaccinated, while his longtime rival Rafael Nadal also publicly supported the vaccinations.
Reluctance to vaccination
Last week on CNN, Dr.Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, outlined a 2022 timeline for when “we’ll start having good control” over Covid-19 in the United States – if vaccines resume.
“I mean, it’s really the number of people who get vaccinated, the number of people who come forward and say, ‘You know we’ve had enough, we have to end this terrible epidemic that’s completely shocked our lives, “” Dr. Fauci later told CBS This Morning on Tuesday.
Except that the message adopted by Fauci and other leading public health experts around the world does not seem convincing to many elite tennis players.
Before the start of the US Open, Tsitsipas’ agent did not respond to CNN’s question of whether he had been vaccinated following Oikonomou’s comments.
In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the ITF, the governing body of world tennis, said: “The ITF continues to update the protocols that all ITF sanctioned tournaments and participants must monitor in order to mitigate the risk of exposure to, and the spread of, Covid-19.
“While this remains a personal decision for each individual, we strongly encourage all participants in ITF events to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as it becomes available to them in order to better protect themselves and protect others.
“It is in everyone’s best interests that the restrictions can be responsibly relaxed for the benefit of participants, tournament hosts and the community at large.”
US Open Rules
But as hundreds of tennis players arrive from all over the world, there are potential real-life consequences for New Yorkers, especially those working behind the scenes at the US Open.
“With the continued evolution of the Delta variant and in keeping with our intention to prioritize the health and safety of our fans, the USTA will extend the Mayor’s Requirement to all ticket holders for the US Open ages 12 and over, ”the release said. read.
“Anyone attending the US Open with tickets to Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, US Open Grandstand or Field will be required to provide proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for enter the field of the US Open. USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. “
US Open rules state that guests participating in the tournament, like players, will also need proof of vaccination for indoor dining venues due to the recent New York City executive order.
Players will also need to show proof of vaccination to eat at restaurants at the US Open’s Flushing Meadows venue – and anywhere else in New York City – but city vaccination mandates for indoor events will not apply. at the side events of the tournament. , such as press conferences, unless they are city residents.
US Open rules require players to take a Covid test upon arrival, but they won’t have to self-isolate while waiting for the result.
In a statement sent to CNN, an ATP spokesperson said: “The vaccination also helps players reduce the risk of being excluded from the competition, as this is a positive case. or close contact.
“We regularly reinforce this position in our communication to players, which has included several virtual sessions with medical experts on the subject in recent months.”
Last week, US Open director Stacey Allaster cited New York’s nearly 70% vaccination rate as one of the reasons organizers are supporting their tournament protocols.
Fans filling the stands at Flushing Meadows stand in stark contrast to the 2020 edition of the tournament, which was played entirely behind closed doors and even forced players to remain largely in a US Open “bubble”.
A prominent tennis player has already had to withdraw from the upcoming US Open after testing positive for Covid-19.
American Sofia Kenin, 2020 Australian Open champion and currently ranked fifth in the world, said on social media that she was vaccinated and her symptoms were “fairly mild.”
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