Novak Djokovic Set to Skip Australian Open After Medical Exemption Denied, Media Claims
11:42 GMT 30.12.2021 (Updated: 18:44 GMT 19.10.2022)
Novak Djokovic had been at loggerheads with Australian Open authorities ever since organisers made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for participation in the tournament. The tennis superstar, however, was looking forward to compete in next year's first Grand Slam with the help of a medical exemption. But that possibility seems to be over now.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the defending men's champion, will not compete in the upcoming Australian Open after the tournament organisers denied him a medical exemption to participate in the event, Serbian outlet Informer claimed on Thursday.
As per the publication, Djokovic, who was pinning his hopes on an exemption on medical grounds, has been dealt a severe blow in his pursuit of a record-extending 10th Australian Open title after the Victorian government dismissed his application.
According to the state of Victoria's rules, all participants, including players, support staff, officials, and spectators must be fully vaccinated to have any kind of presence in the Australian Open. But a select group of competitors would be exempt from the rule due to medical reasons.
Speculation over Djokovic's participation in the first Slam of the year intensified on Wednesday after he withdrew his name from the ATP Cup, an Australian Open warm-up tournament.
Despite repeated requests from the media, Djokovic is yet to reveal his vaccination status.
On the other hand, he has previously spoken about the freedom of choice as he continued to remain non-committal about getting jabbed, despite contracting the virus last year.
"The freedom of choice is essential for everyone, whether it's me or somebody else", Djokovic said in November. "Doesn't really matter whether it's vaccination or anything else in life. You should have the freedom to choose. In this particular case, what you want to put in your body".
Djokovic's absence from the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific would be a huge setback for the tournament, considering 2009 winner Rafael Nadal's participation is also in limbo after the Spaniard tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
The Australian Open begins on 17 January in Melbourne.