Australian’s are furious and confused after world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic revealed he received a travel exemption to play in the Australian Open.
The controversial decision comes after Djokovic, who consistently declined to reveal his vaccination status, looked unlikely to be allowed to play in the tournament.
However, on Tuesday, January 4, the Serbian tennis star took to Instagram to announce he will be defending his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park after he had been given a medical exemption.
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According to the ABC, both the Australian Open and Victorian government stated that a review had been done to confirm that the tennis player had “a genuine medical condition that meets the criteria for an exemption.”
The news sparked outrage all across social media.
Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player ever. Forget Laver, Agassi ,Federer,Sampras,Nadal,McEnroe,Connors and Borg for Novak has won 20 Grand Slams and 87 titles and a billion dollars without us knowing he had a debilitating medical problem.We have been taken for fools. Kb
— Kevin Bartlett (@KevinBartlett29) January 4, 2022
Tennis journalist, Ben Rothenberg, posted on Twitter the Australian government’s guidelines on those who are allowed exemption and raised the question about the legitimacy of Djokovic’s exemption.
There are also non-medical exemptions which can be applied for to enter Australia; Djokovic did not say his exemption was medical.
However it’s difficult to imagine a tennis player, even a good one, could be deemed “in the national interest” or possessing “critical skills.” pic.twitter.com/YO8kSwYgAr
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 4, 2022
Meanwhile, other tennis players have tried to remain diplomatic in their responses. Rising Australian tennis star Alex de Minaur opted to keep his response short during a press conference after his ATP Cup match.
“It’s very interesting. That’s all I’m going to say,” de Minaur said.
British player Jamie Murry, says people need to trust that Djokovic had a genuine medical condition.
“I think if it was me that wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t be getting an exemption … but well done to him for getting clear to come to Australia and compete,” Murray said.
Notable Victorian emergency department doctor, Stephen Parnis, says Djokovic’s exemption is sending an “appalling message” to people trying to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he’s refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn’t be allowed in…Vaccination shows respect, Novak,” Parnis tells the ABC
This news comes as Djokovic previously declined to declare his Covid-19 vaccination status and pulled out of the ATP Cup in Sydney last month.