Novak Djokovic will compete at this year’s Australian Open, after he received a medical exemption to travel to Melbourne despite his refusal to say whether he has been vaccinated.
The Serbian’s participation was a major doubt because of strict vaccination requirements in Australia, and he pulled out of the Serbia team for the ATP Cup in Sydney on 29 December.
But the number-one ranked player revealed he had received “an exemption permission” to travel to Australia.
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In a social media post, he said: “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!”
Djokovic, who is seeking a record 21st Grand Slam singles title, has repeatedly refused to reveal if he has received a COVID-19 jab.
The Victoria state government has mandated that all players, staff and fans attending the open must be double-vaccinated unless there is a genuine reason why an exemption should be granted.
Australian Open organisers issued a statement on Tuesday to announce Djokovic would be allowed to compete in the tournament and was on his way to Australia.
“Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” the statement said.
“One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health. They assessed all applications to see if they met the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation guidelines.”
Tennis Australia said the process included the redaction of personal information to ensure privacy for all applicants.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said “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,” Mr Tiley said.
Djokovic has won nine of his 20 major titles at the Australian Open and will be hoping to retain the title this year.
He shares the men’s record for most majors with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
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