Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic granted Covid exemption for Australian Open
Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open winner
Novak Djokovic will defend his Australian Open title later this month after the world number one received a medical exemption from having a Covid-19 vaccine.
The tournament - which begins in Melbourne on January 17 - requires all players and staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or have an exemption granted by an 'expert independent panel'.
The Serbian, who has won Australian Open on nine occasions, has not spoken publicly about his vaccination status.
The 34-year-old took to Twitter on Tuesday to reveal that he would be competing at the tournament "with an exemption permission".
He said: "I've spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading down under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022.
"I am ready to live and breathe tennis in the next few weeks of competition."
Tennis Australia confirmed the news, who stated: "Novak Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia."
Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, love & joy in every moment & may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.
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! pic.twitter.com/e688iSO2d4
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 4, 2022
Australian Open organisers say the medical exemption was granted through a 'rigorous review process' that went via the country's Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley spoke about the matter earlier this week, revealing that that some unvaccinated players had been granted exemptions to compete.
When applications for medical exemptions are submitted, they are assessed anonymously by two different panels.
Of the potential reasons for an exemption, inflammatory cardiac illness or another acute condition listed are two examples.
In a statement on Tuesday, 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."
Djokovic - who has won 20 career majors - recently withdrew from the Serbia team for the ATP Cup in Sydney, with many speculating that he was unlikely to compete at the Australian Open.
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