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The world number 1 obtained, Tuesday, from the Australian Federation a “medical exemption” which will allow him to go to the Australian Open in Melbourne. Novak Djokovic had cast doubt on his participation for months, due to the obligation for players to be vaccinated to enter the country.
First victory for Novak Djokovic and setback for the Australian authorities. The world number 1, who has never communicated on his vaccination status, announced Tuesday, January 4 that he had obtained a “medical exemption” which will allow him to run for a 21e Grand Slam title record at the Australian Open which will take place from January 17 to 30 in Melbourne.
“I had a great time with my loved ones during the holidays and today I’m leaving for Down Under (Australia) thanks to a waiver,” the 34-year-old Serb wrote on his Instagram page. to accompany a photo of him at the airport with a bag of snowshoes. “I am ready to live and breathe tennis in the weeks to come. Thank you all for your support! Idemooo (Alleeeez, Editor’s note) 2022.”
I enjoyed being with my family and dear people, I took a break from the very long and successful 2021 season. Now I am moving to Australia because I got an exemption and I am ready to live and breathe tennis for the next couple of weeks of competition. Thank you all for your support! Idemooooo ’22 💪🏼
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 4, 2022
In the process, the Australian Federation (TA), organizer of the tournament, explained in a statement that Djokovic had “requested a medical exemption which was granted to him after a rigorous examination (of his request) involving two different and independent groups of medical experts “.
The Australian Department of Health foresees five cases of obtaining the medical exemption: having been the victim in the previous three months of an inflammatory heart disease, being in a serious and acute medical condition (having undergone for example a major surgical intervention or undergo major but time-limited medical treatment), have contracted Covid-19 in the last six months (vaccination is then postponed), have suffered a serious reaction following a previous injection of the anti-Covid vaccine ( without an alternative vaccine being possible, or if the vaccine poses a risk (such as developmental or mental disorders).
>> To read: Australian Open: arm wrestling around vaccination against Covid-19
But the TA took refuge behind medical confidentiality so as not to justify the exemption issued to Djokovic. “Fair and independent protocols have been put in place to assess requests for medical exemptions to ensure a safe and enjoyable 2022 Australian Open for everyone,” TA President Craig Tiley said. , in the press release.
But he then urged the player to reveal the reasons for the exemption. “It would certainly be helpful if Novak explained the conditions under which he requested and obtained an exemption,” he 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.
Anti-vaccination players have withdrawn
The world number 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 get vaccinated for travel. “
In December, when a rumor said that the world number 1 would be allowed to travel to Australia via an exceptional medical exemption, the Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, reaffirmed that no waiver of convenience would not be issued.
“Anyone who wants to come to the tournament, spectators, players, officials, staff, everyone must be fully vaccinated. The medical exemption is not a trick for the use of privileged players”, then insisted James Merlino.
As a result, the French Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who refuses to be vaccinated, gave up going to Melbourne, just like the American Tennys Sandgren.
And the first negative reactions appeared in the Australian press, like the Courrier Mail which launched in one: “You must be Djoking” by playing on the word joke (joke) and Djokovic to say “You must be joking”. And by announcing a “fury” after the “shock of No-Vax” (pun between Novak and no vaccine).
End of the suspense
Novak Djokovic therefore puts an end to the suspense, after having left the doubt for months, due to the obligation made to the players to be vaccinated to enter Australia, on his participation in the first lifting of the Grand Slam 2022, where he will aim for a 21e Major title record after equaling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (20) in winning at Wimbledon last year.
However, the Australian Open is his favorite tournament: it is in Melbourne that he won his first Grand Slam title (2008), and no one has won there as much as him (nine times).
His withdrawal without justification for the ATP Cup, a few days before this team tournament organized in Sydney from 1is on January 9, had further thickened the doubt about his participation in the Australian Open.