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04 January 2022

Vaccine sceptic Novak Djokovic reveals he has medical exemption to play in Australian Open

04 January 2022

Novak Djokovic looks set to play in the Australian Open after revealing he is heading to the country under a medical exemption.

Defending champion Djokovic has previously refused to reveal if he has been vaccinated against Covid-19, a requirement to play in Melbourne.

The world number one pulled out of the Serbia team competing at the ATP Cup in Sydney without explanation, adding to speculation that the nine-time champion and vaccine sceptic would not play in the season’s first grand slam.

However, Australian Open chief Craig Tiley revealed this week that some unvaccinated players have been granted exemptions to play, and it seems Djokovic is among them.

Tiley added that the reason for granting an exemption would “remain private, between the panel and the applicant”.

Djokovic wrote on Instagram: “Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love and respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.

“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!!”

It will be interesting to see what sort of reception Djokovic receives from the Australian public given the country was placed under one of the longest and strictest coronavirus lockdowns.

Djokovic was also heavily criticised for hosting a tournament, the Adria Tour competition in Belgrade, during the height of the pandemic. He and a number of other players subsequently contracted the virus.

Nevertheless, the Australian Open provides Djokovic with another chance to move clear of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with the three having each won 20 grand slam titles.

The 34-year-old was challenging for the calendar year grand slam in 2021 but fell short in the US Open final by losing to Daniil Medvedev, the man he beat in last year’s Australian Open final.

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