Australian Open: Novak Djokovic to defend his Grand Slam title after getting vaccination exemption

The Serbian has informed that he has an "exemption permission" to play at the season-opening Grand Slam without a Covid-19 vaccination.

File photo - Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the Paris Masters; Credit: [email protected]

World No.1 Novak Djokovic has revealed that he is traveling to Melbourne to participate in the upcoming Australian Open after being granted a medical exemption to play. The Serbian has informed that he has an “exemption permission” to play at the season-opening Grand Slam without a Covid-19 vaccination. It is to be noted that Djokovic had never revealed whether he is vaccinated against Covid-19. He had previously been named in Serbia’s team for the ATP Cup in Sydney. Surprisingly though, he pulled out of the tournament that is normally a traditional warm-up for the Australian Open. That withdrawal had led to doubts over his participation in the first Grand Slam of the year.

“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission,” he said on social media platform on Tuesday. Djokovic’s post also had a picture of him at an airport. In that picture, the World No.1 tennis player can be seen standing with his bags.

Meanwhile, an Australia Open media statement read on Tuesday, “Novak Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia. Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.”

“One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health. They assessed all applications to see if they met the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines. The COVID-19 vaccination protocols for the Australian Open, including the process for players seeking medical exemptions, have been finalised by the Victorian Department of Health and Tennis Australia.”

Multi-step independent review process

“Under an independent process, applications for a medical exemption were first reviewed by an expert panel made up of doctors from the fields of immunology, infectious disease and general practice. Applications that met the national guidelines set by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) were then subjected to a second review conducted by a Government-appointed panel of medical experts, the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel.

“The applications were reviewed and approved only in line with ATAGI guidelines. The process included the redaction of personal information to ensure privacy for all applicants. The multi-step independent review process was designed to ensure the safety of everyone at the Australian Open.”

Meanwhile, Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley also had his say on it. Tiley added: “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. Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration.”

Sportslumo Desk

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