Amid the controversy, the Australian Open explained why it enabled Djokovic to participate without being vaccinated

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Novak Djokovic got his thumb up to compete at the Australian Open (REUTERS / Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
Novak Djokovic got his thumb up to compete at the Australian Open (REUTERS / Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

Novak Djokovic will be able to defend his Australian Open title after receiving a medical exemption to travel to Melbourne, which ends months of uncertainty about its participation in the first major of the year due to the strict regulations and vaccination requirements against COVID-19 in force for the tournament. The Serbian, number one in the world, wrote on his Instagram account on Tuesday that he had “an exemption permit” to travel to Australia.

Djokovic, who is looking to break the men’s tennis record with what would be his 21st Grand Slam title, has declined to reveal whether he is vaccinated against the coronavirus. The government of the state of Victoria, where Melbourne, the venue of the tournament is located, has mandated that all players, staff and fans attending the Australian Open must have completed the vaccination schedule, unless there is a genuine reason to grant them. an exemption.

Organizers confirmed in a statement Tuesday night that Djokovic will be able to compete and that he was traveling to Australia. “Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which has been granted after a rigorous review process involving two independent committees of medical experts”explained the note. “One of them was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Committee appointed by the Victoria Department of Health. They evaluated all the applications to see if they met the guidelines of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization. “

Djokovic was in center stage at the Australian Open (REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger)
Djokovic was in center stage at the Australian Open (REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger)

Tennis Australia said the process included the suppression of personal information to ensure the privacy of all claimants. The tournament director, Craig Tiley, said that “fair and independent protocols were established to evaluate petitions for medical exemptions that will allow us to ensure that the Australian Open 2022 is safe and fun for everyone. ” “The key to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that each applicant received due consideration,” added Tiley.

Djokovic, who won the last three trophies to be the top exponent, has won nine of his 20 majors in Australia. He shares the ATP title record with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The ocean contest will take place from January 17 to 30.

Absence from ATP Cup

After evasive new statements about his trip to Australia, his unjustified absence from the ATP Cup, a few days before this team tournament organized in Sydney from January 1 to 9, had raised doubts about his participation in the Australian Open. The world number one had been expressed in April 2020 against mandatory vaccination, then raised to allow the resumption of tournaments. “Personally, I am not in favor of vaccines. I would not like someone to force me to get vaccinated to travel “, had stated Nole in a conversation with several Serbian athletes on his Facebook page.

The Serbian had been criticized several weeks later for having organized the Adria Tour in early June 2020 in the Balkans, an itinerant charitable tournament without respecting sanitary precautions (full stadium without wearing masks, hugs between tennis players on the court, common dinners and visits to discos). At the end of the tournament, Djokovic had tested positive for Covid-19, as well as his compatriot Viktor Troicki, the Croatian Borna Coric and the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. “I am deeply sorry that our tournament could have caused so much damage,” Djokovic apologized at the time. “We were wrong, it was too early” to organize such a tournament, he acknowledged.

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