Novak Djokovic has received a medical exemption clearing him to play in the Australian Open without having a Covid-19 vaccination.
The government in Victoria, where the Australian Open is set to begin on January 17, required players competing in the tournament to have been double-vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel to the country, but organisers have confirmed that players assessed to have legitimate medical reasons for not being vaccinated will be given special permission to enter.
Djokovic, the world number one and defending Open champion, has never publicly confirmed his vaccination status, but has criticised tournaments that mandate vaccinations for players.
In a tweet that seemingly acknowledged that he has not been vaccinated, Djokovic shared an image of himself at the airport, with the caption, ‘I’ve spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over break & today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!’
Tennis Australia confirmed the news in a statement that read, ‘Novak Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia,’ adding that he was granted an exemption following ‘a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts’.
A specific reason for his exemption was not given, however the BBC reports that certain health conditions, as well as a recent positive test for Covid-19, may be listed as valid reasons.
The news comes days after Australian Open chief Craig Tiley confirmed that some unvaccinated players had been granted exemptions, saying, ‘Fair and independent protocols were established for assessing medical exemption applications that will enable us to ensure Australian Open 2022 is safe and enjoyable for everyone.’
‘Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration,’ he said.
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