AUSTRALIA’S Prime Minister has ruled out the possibility of Novak Djokovic being granted a medical exemption in order to compete in January’s Australian Open without being vaccinated.
The Australian Prime Minister has slammed suggestions that Novak Djokovic could receive a medical exemption to play the Australian Open. The world No 1 has been in doubt to play the season-opening Grand Slam after vaccination became mandatory for all players, as he refuses to disclose whether he has been jabbed. Djokovic then put himself on the entry list for the tournament but there was speculation he would attempt to apply for an exemption to compete without being vaccinated
Djokovic’s Australian Open title defence has been in question for several months, after it emerged that government issues were looking to implement a vaccine mandate.
The world No 1 had previously spoken out against mandatory vaccination on the tennis tour, and later admitted he “didn’t know if [he] was going” to Australia as he refused to disclose his vaccination status.
After tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed all players competing in the season-opening Grand Slam needed to be vaccinated, the nine-time champion at the event continued to avoid giving a definitive decision, instead telling reporters “we’ll see” and “you’ll know very soon” in recent press conferences.
Djokovic fans were then given a big boost when his name appeared on the official Australian Open entry list on Wednesday but there was speculation that he would be granted a medican exemption without needing to be vaccinated – and he would therefore not have to quarantine for two weeks.
Multiple Australian organisations including the Herald Sun and 7 News Melbourne reported that the 20-time Grand Slam champion would possibly be applying for an “exemption to enter Australia on medical grounds”, meaning he would be allowed in without needing the jab and would benefit from more freedoms than unvaccinated members of the public.
The state government in Victoria has continued to stand firm on their ban for unvaccinated players, and the country’s Prime Minister has now stepped in, shutting down any prospect of the world No 1 receiving a medical exemption.
Scott Morrison told reporters on Thursday that Djokovic would be subject to “any of the same rules that anyone else would be seeking to come to Australia.”
He added: “Those decisions are being made by medical officials and other officials, not by politicians.”
The Prime Minister slammed the idea that tennis players would receive any special treatment, and reiterated that they needed to be fully vaccinated to play in the country.
He continued: “He [Djokovic] will follow the same rules as anyone else would. There are no special rules for tennis players or anyone else.
“They apply by the same rules and that they are the rules in place for the Victorian government and the Australian Open itself and they have their rules.”
The Serb’s appearance on the Australian Open entry list came a day after he was listed in Serbia’s ATP Cup squad, with the tournament kicking off in Sydney from January 1.
Tennis Australia boss and Australian Open tournament director Tiley also addressed the speculation over an exemption for Djokovic, and admitted that the 20-time Grand Slam champion could still pull out of events despite being on the entry list.
“To be clear up front, no one can play the Australian Open unless they are vaccinated,” Tiley told the ABC.
“The only condition at which, outside of being vaccinated, that you could compete is if you receive a medically approved exemption from Australian authorities.
“I’ve seen reports this morning. There’s been no medical exemptions that have been granted at this point.”
He added: “Everyone goes on the entry list. It’s not a commitment list about exactly who’s in the draw. That comes in several weeks’ time when the actual list and draw gets finalised for the Australian Open.