Novak Djokovic speaks following his US Open defeat against Daniil Medvedev.
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Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has provided an update on the tournament’s process regarding medical exemption applications, potentially putting Novak Djokovic on alert. The CEO of Tennis Australia has said those who wish to participate in the first Grand Slam of 2022 without a vaccine due to a medical issue will have their case reviewed by an independent three-person panel.
Applicants who are successful in the initial stage will be subject to a second review conducted by a government-appointed panel of medical experts, before the application is submitted to the Australian Immunisation Register.
The governing body of the sport announced all submissions will be confidential and the panel would consist of doctors from the fields of immunology, infectious disease and general practice, all of which has been agreed in conjunction with the Victoria Department of Health.
There has been talk that Djokovic is looking to apply for a medical exemption, after Australia’s Herald Sun and 7 News Melbourne reported that the 20-time Grand Slam champion would possibly be applying for an “exemption to enter Australia on medical grounds.”
Craig Tiley and Australian government officials including the Prime Minister have shut down the prospect of Djokovic being given special treatment in order to compete in the tournament, and he will either neet to be fully immunised or be granted a medical exemption to get into the state of Victoria.
“He [Djokovic] will follow the same rules as anyone else would. There are no special rules for tennis players or anyone else,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters last Thursday (December 9).
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Meanwhile, Tiley told ABC: “I’ve seen reports this morning. There’s been no medical exemptions that have been granted at this point.
With the tournament set to begin in a month’s time, the 34-year-old has still yet to disclose his vaccination status, while Tiley said everyone is working to ensure tennis’ first major event of the year is as safe as possible.
“We’ve worked closely with the Victorian government to establish fair and independent protocols for assessing medical exemption applications that will enable us to ensure Australian Open 2022 is safe and enjoyable for everybody,” he said.
“Central to this process is that the decisions will be made by independent medical experts and that every applicant gets due consideration.”
Victoria state’s sports minister Martin Pakula, said the process could set a precedent for other big events.
“We are happy there is some rigour around the process, we think it leads to the best possible outcomes,” he added.
“They want the safest possible event for players and fans. That involves having the most rigorous medical exemption process.”
After losing the decisive semi-finals doubles rubber against Croatia 7-5 6-1, Djokovic was asked about his plans for the 2022 season, which begins in less than a month with Australian Open warm-up tournaments kicking off on January 2.
“I understand you want some answers on where I start the season, how I start it,” Djokovic said.
“I’m really, really tired from this season and this whole year, so I just prefer sticking to the family quality time, rehab mode, then let’s see what the future brings.
“You will be informed. I know what you want. I’m not going to give you an answer tonight. I know what you want to ask me.”
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