Novak Djokovic has Covid-19 vaccination 'exemption' to play at Australian Open
"I've spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission," the nine-time Australian Open champion said in Instagram post on Tuesday; Australian Open say his medical exemption passed a 'rigorous, multi-step' review.
Last Updated: 04/01/22 6:44pm
Novak Djokovic says he has an "exemption permission" to play at the Australian Open without a Covid-19 vaccination.
Djokovic had never revealed whether he is vaccinated against Covid-19, but has criticised mandates ruling that players must be double-jabbed.
"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 on Tuesday.
Rules in Victoria, where the Australian Open will begin on January 17, stated that players must be double-vaccinated against Covid-19.
Djokovic had previously been named in Serbia's team for the ATP Cup in Sydney, but then withdrew from the tournament which is a traditional warm-up for the Australian Open, leading to a mystery about his participation in the Grand Slam.
"Novak Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia," an Australia Open media statement read on Tuesday.
"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.
"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."
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig 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."
Djokovic the most successful player in the history of the Australian Open, and is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career Grand Slams each.
Federer will miss the Australian Open due to injury, but while Nadal had tested positive for Covid-19, he has since confirmed that he will play.