Andy Murray hopes that more players choose to be vaccinated over the coming months as tennis faces a possible reckoning over its rate of inoculation among tour professionals, which is widely believed to be below 50%.
Murray, who faces Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round of the US Open on Monday, was speaking in the wake of the USTA announcing on Friday that all fans must have received at least one dose in order to enter the grounds. As such, the only unvaccinated people in the stadiums will be many of the players on court.
At the US Open, vaccinated players are already subject to less stringent rules, such as being allowed to eat indoors at restaurants and train at public gyms. “I feel like I’m enjoying a fairly normal life, whereas for the players that haven’t, it’s different,” said Murray. “I’m sure they’ll be frustrated with that. Ultimately I guess the reason why all of us are getting vaccinated is to look out for the wider public. We have a responsibility as players that are travelling across the world to look out for everyone else as well. I’m happy that I’m vaccinated. I’m hoping that more players choose to have it in the coming months.”
Some tournaments around the world have offered players jabs, but there has been limited uptake. Murray believes that this could prove a particular issue with the Australian Open where tournament director Craig Tiley has announced plans for players to compete in a biosecure bubble during their first two weeks in Australia rather than a 14-day quarantine.
“Over the next few months things are going to probably end up changing quite a bit,” said Murray. I know the conversations with regards to the Australian Open are already happening. The players that have been vaccinated are going to be having very different conditions to players who are not.” He concluded that there will have to be “a lot of pretty long, hard conversations” between the tours and players.
British No 1 Dan Evans was forced to withdraw from the Olympics after contracting Covid-19. While Johanna Konta, who also missed the Games in Tokyo due to a positive test, has expressed some uncertainty about taking the vaccine, Evans believes “it would be good if we could keep each other safe with the vaccine”.
“Obviously people have different opinions, as everybody has different opinions on a lot of things," hy het gesê. “It’s not an easy one but I don’t think they’re putting this vaccine out of the back of a lorry, is hulle? I’m sure there’s quite a lot of science in it to say it’s good for us. That would be my take on it.”
Evans, who is still recovering his fitness, says that he was supposed to receive his second Pfizer shot just after he tested positive and will now have his second vaccine when he is cleared to do so. “There’s some pretty nasty stories out there of people who didn’t want to have the vaccine or are anti-vaxx and then sadly had some complications and probably wished they’d have had it," hy het gesê.