Outrage after Novak Djokovic allowed to play in Australian Open without vaccination 4 months ago

Outrage after Novak Djokovic allowed to play in Australian Open without vaccination

The world number one has been granted an 'exemption permission' to compete at the Australian Open

The decision to allow Novak Djokovic to compete at the Australian Open despite the player refusing to reveal his vaccination status has sparked fury.

It was announced on Tuesday that the world number one would be competing at the first Grand Slam of 2022, despite the competition's requirement that all players and staff must be vaccinated against covid-19.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he had been granted an "exemption permission," with tournament organisers saying the medical exemption was granted through a "rigorous review process" that went via the country's Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.

Djokovic has refused to ever reveal his vaccination status but in April last year did say that he was "opposed to vaccination."

The decision to let Novak compete has sparked anger and bemusement from people both within and outside the sport though.

Australian player Alex de Minaur told a press conference: "I just think it's very interesting.... that's all I'm going to say."

Speaking after Great Britain lost to Canada in the ATP Cup, Jamie Murray said: "I think if it was me that wasn't vaccinated I wouldn't be getting an exemption. You know, but well done to him for getting clear to come to Australia and compete."

A&E doctor Stephen Parnis tweeted: "I don't care how good a tennis player he is. If he's refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn't be allowed in.

"If this exemption is true, it sends an appalling message to millions seeking to reduce #COVID19Aus risk to themselves & others. #Vaccination shows respect, Novak."

One journalist described it as a "slap in the face" for the likes of the England cricket team, who had to fully quarantine on their arrival in Australia for the Ashes, with another pointing out that "many Australians have not been able to return home for two years", labelling it as an example of "consistent rule bending for a selected few" and a "grubby decision."

Discussing the decision to allow Djokovic to compete, Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said they had made it "extra difficult" for players to get an exemption. He told Channel 9 that of 26 athletes who applied for medical exemptions only "a handful" had been granted.

However Australian Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews did not rule out the possibility that the federal government may get involved in the dispute and have their say on whether Djokovic will be allowed to enter the country.

She said in a statement: "While the Victorian Government and Tennis Australia may permit a non-vaccinated player to compete in the Australian Open, it is the Commonwealth Government that will enforce our requirements at the Australian border.

"No individual competing at the Australian Open will be afforded any special treatment."

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