Doubt continues to hover. Novak Djokovic, who has never communicated on his vaccination status, is invited to reveal the reasons which allowed him to obtain a medical exemption before flying to Australia, where he is to participate in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. The granting of this exemption sparked an uproar in Australia, where the measures put in place to fight Covid-19 have been particularly strict since the start of the pandemic.
“It would certainly be useful if Novak explained the conditions under which he requested and obtained an exemption”Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley, also director of the Australian Open, told reporters on Wednesday 5 January.
“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 continued.
No preferential treatment
However, says the boss of Australian tennis, the world number 1 has received no preferential treatment to obtain this exemption, granted after an examination of his request by the Australian authorities and those of the State of Victoria.
In total, 26 players or members of their staff, out of some 3,000 people expected in Australia, have requested an exemption. Only a few of them got it, revealed Craig Tiley.
“Anyone who meets the conditions has been allowed to enter. There was no special favor. There was no special treatment given to Novak ”, he insisted.
He explained that the two commissions responsible for examining exemption requests did so without knowing the identity of the applicants.
A “spit in the face”
In the meantime, the controversy continues in Australia. It’s a “Spit in the face of every inhabitant of the state of Victoria and every Australian”, launched former tennis player and now television commentator Sam Groth, in a column published by the daily Herald Sun de Melbourne.
“You mean you have an exemption, but you don’t mean why? It’s disgusting hypocrisy ”, he added.
“I believe that if it was me who was not vaccinated, I would not have obtained an exemption”, complained about British doubles player and brother of Andy Murray, Jamie, who is currently competing in the ATP Cup in Sydney.
A prominent Australian doctor, Stephen Parnis, blasted on Twitter a “Distressing message”. “I don’t care if he’s a good tennis player. If he refuses to be vaccinated, he should not be allowed in. “
I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he’s refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn’t be allowed in. If thi… https://t.co/jd7FqYqW4k
“If this exemption is true, it sends a distressing message to the millions of people who seek to reduce the risk of Covid-19 in Australia for themselves and for others”, judged the doctor.
A qualified participation of “Bomb” through The Courier-Mail, which title in “one” « You must be Djoking » (a play on words meaning “you’re laughing” in French), also recalling that the country recorded nearly 50,000 contaminations on Tuesday.
In Wednesday’s @couriermail, fury as @DjokerNole to compete at @AustralianOpen with exemption + National Cabinet pl… https://t.co/W2PngUqw4J
“Nole” as opposed to the vaccination requirement
For months, “Nole” had cast doubt on his participation in the first Grand Slam of the year, due to the obligation for players to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter Australia.
In April 2020 he was opposed to compulsory vaccination, then considered to allow the resumption of tournaments. “Personally, I am not for vaccines. I would not like someone to force me to be vaccinated to travel ”, he then said.
He finally announced Tuesday on his Instagram account having obtained a medical exemption allowing him to make the trip. An exemption provided for by Australian regulations in five specific cases (having contracted Covid-19 in the previous six months or serious medical contraindication, in particular). But the federation, citing medical confidentiality, refused to say which applied to Novak Djokovic.
Already winner of 20 Grand Slams, like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic could clinch a 21 in Melbournee title and enter a little more into the legend of world tennis.
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Australian Open: Novak Djokovic summoned to explain his medical exemption