Outrage over Djokovic’s medical exception to play in the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic received no special treatment to get an exemption from the covid-19 vaccination requirements to play at the Australian Open later this month, Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government said on Wednesday.

The world number 1 announced on Tuesday that he was given an exemption to play in the Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne. Officials said he was one of a “handful” of successful applicants among 26 people seeking exemptions.

“I think a lot of people in Victorian society will think this is a disappointing result,” Acting Victorian Sports Minister Jaala Pulford told a news conference.

“But the process is the process; no one has received special treatment. The process is incredibly robust. It is unidentified and we are where we are, and so tennis can begin.”

The decision to grant Djokovic an exemption drew sharp criticism in Australia, where more than 90% of people over the age of 16 have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Melbourne had the world’s longest cumulative lock to contain covid, and an outbreak of the Omicron variant has sent case numbers to record levels.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said the two-step application process was confidential and run by independent experts. All applications were assessed to ensure that any exemptions met the conditions set by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI).

Tiley said these reasons included previous adverse reactions to vaccines, recent major surgery or myocarditis, or certified evidence of a covid infection in the past six months.

The Serb, who had declined to reveal his vaccination status, had previously said he was unsure if he would compete in the January 17-30 tournament in Melbourne due to concerns over Australia’s quarantine rules. “

“We fully understand and empathize with … people who are outraged by the fact that Novak has come in because of his statements in recent years about vaccination,” Tiley told reporters.

“But it is ultimately up to him to discuss with the public his condition, if he chooses to do so, and the reasons why he was granted an exemption.”

(Reuters)

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