No.1 Tennis Champ Novak Djokovic Scores Vax Exemption to Compete in Australian Open

Djokovic stood in the face of mandatory vaccination enforcement from the Australian government, managing to secure an exemption to compete in the Australian Open. 

QUICK FACTS:
  • Djokovic said publicly that he didn’t want to be vaccinated, indicating that he had received a medical exemption to enter the country, making the announcement in a social media post that showed him ready to fly to Australia on the tarmac.
  • Djokovic won three of tennis’s four Grand Slam tournaments last year. He was able to comply with negative testing requirements to make it through last season, but Australia’s policies tightened. The tournament had insisted that no player, staff member, or fan would be admitted without being vaccinated. 
  • Australian Open organizers said on Tuesday that Djokovic’s application for an exemption had been reviewed but didn’t give any details on his case. Djokovic contracted and recovered from Covid in the summer of 2020.
WHAT ELSE DJOKOVIC SAID:

“I am ready to live and breathe tennis in the next few weeks of competition.”

BACKGROUND:
  • The Australian Open released a statement after Djokovic’s announcement. Two panels of experts were charged with reviewing the evidence, with the applications finalized by the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel, a panel of experts appointed by the government.
  • Criteria listed by the Australian Technical Advisory Group as permissible reasons for a medical exemption range from those suffering acute major medical conditions to any serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of Covid-19 vaccine. For those who have recently tested positive for Covid-19, vaccination can also be deferred until six months after infection. The reason for Djokovic’s exemption was not disclosed.
  • “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,” said Craig Tiley, the Tennis Australia CEO.