Djokovic asked to explain his medical exemption for the Australian Open: “A spit in the face of all Australians”

The world No. 1 has always refused to communicate on his vaccine status about Covid-19. “It would certainly be helpful if Novak explained the conditions under which he applied for and obtained an exemption,” Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley, also director of the year’s first Grand Slam of the year, told reporters on Wednesday.

“I encourage him to talk to the community about this … We have been going through a very difficult time over the past two years and I would appreciate some responses to that,” he added.

The Australian tennis boss, however, said that the world No. 1 had received no preferential treatment to obtain this exemption, during a process supervised by the Australian authorities and those of the State of Victoria.

A total of 26 players or members of their staff, out of the 3000 or so expected in Australia, have requested an exemption and only a few of them have obtained it, he revealed.

“Anyone qualifying was allowed in. There was no special favor. There was no special treatment given to Novak,” Tiley insisted.

He indicated that the two commissions responsible for examining exemption requests did so without knowing the identity of the applicants.

Already winner of 20 Grand Slams, like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic is aiming for a record 21st title in Melbourne. The Australian Open, which begins on January 17, is his favorite tournament: it is in Melbourne that the Serbian won his first Grand Slam (2008), and no one has won there as often as him (nine wins).

For months, “Nole” had cast doubt on his participation in the first Grand Slam of the year, due to the obligation for players to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter Australia.

The world No. 1 spoke in April 2020 against compulsory vaccination, then considered to allow the resumption of tournaments. “Personally, I am not for vaccines. I would not like someone forcing me to be vaccinated to travel,” he said at the time.

He finally announced Tuesday that he had obtained a medical exemption allowing him to make the trip. Australian regulations provide for this type of exemption in five specific cases (having contracted Covid-19 in the previous six months, serious medical contraindication …) but the federation, citing medical confidentiality, refused to say which one is applied to Djokovic.

This decision sparked an uproar in Australia, where the measures put in place to fight Covid-19 have been particularly strict since the start of the pandemic.

It is a “spit in the face of every inhabitant of the state of Victoria and every Australian,” wrote former tennis player Sam Groth, turned television commentator, in a column published by the daily Herald Melbourne Sun.

“You mean you have an exemption, but you don’t mean why? It’s disgusting hypocrisy,” he added. “I believe that if it was me who was not vaccinated, I would not have obtained an exemption,” also complained for his part the British doubles player Jamie Murray, who currently participates in ATP Cup in Sydney. And a prominent Australian doctor, Stephen Parnis, blasted on Twitter a “distressing message”: “I don’t care if he is a good tennis player. If he refuses to be vaccinated, he should not be allowed. to enter “.

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Djokovic asked to explain his medical exemption for the Australian Open: “A spit in the face of all Australians”