(Reuters) – Andy Murray said receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is about looking out for the health of the “wider public” and he hopes tennis players who are reluctant to get the jab will come around to seeing its many upsides.
Murray’s comments come ahead of the start of the U.S. Open in New York next week, where organizers on Friday said fans must show proof of vaccination to enter the grounds. The athletes themselves are not required to be vaccinated.
“The reason why all of us are getting vaccinated is to look out for the wider public,” Murray told reporters on Saturday.
“We have a responsibility, as players who are traveling across the world, to look out for everyone else as well,” he said.
“I’m happy that I’m vaccinated. I’m hoping that more players choose to have it in the coming months.”
The COVID-19 vaccine has divided opinion within tennis.
World number one Novak Djokovic this week reiterated his position that he hoped the vaccine would not become mandatory for players to compete. He has declined to answer questions about his own vaccination status.
World number three Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will face the unseeded Murray in the first round on Monday, has said he is wary of getting vaccinated and will only do so if it becomes mandatory to compete on the ATP Tour.
But 20-time Grand Slam winners Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal feel athletes need to play their part and get vaccinated.
Murray said players may be persuaded when they see the freedom that vaccinated players have compared to unvaccinated competitors at tournaments such as January’s Australian Open.
“I know the conversations with regards to the Australian Open and stuff are already happening,” Murray said.
“The players that have been vaccinated are going to potentially be able to … have very different conditions to players who are not vaccinated.”
Murray said he believes “a lot” of the tour is not vaccinated and said that if tournaments begin to require it in order to compete, it will spark controversy.
“There’s going to have to be a lot of pretty long, hard conversations with the tour and all of the players involved to try and come to a solution,” he said.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis)