A medical exemption loophole in the Australian Government protocols for the Australian Open could allow world No.1 Novak Djokovic to play in Melbourne if he has still not received a covid vaccination.

The Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper reported Djokovic may have grounds to apply for an exemption that enable the world No.1 to avoid 14 days’ quarantine and that he has the support of Tennis Australia.

But the move has been slammed by Victorian State deputy premier James Merlino.

“My view on this is is really clear and really simple,” Merlino said.

“Everyone’s looking forward to the Australian Open and everyone who will attend – spectators, players, officials, staff – everyone is expected to be fully vaccinated.

Craig Tiley and Novak Djokovic in the locker room after winning the Australian Open in February. Photo: Tennis Australia/ FIONA HAMILTON

“They’re the rules. Medical exemptions are just that – it’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players.

“It is a medical exemption in exceptional circumstances if you have an acute medical condition.

“My view and I think the view of all Victorians, the expectation of all Victorians is that everyone who attends the Open – player, spectator, staff, officials, everyone’s fully vaccinated.”

New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg questioned the exemptions plan, saying it was “pretty surprising” that route was being pursued.

“It did seem like almost all players were willing to accept the terms,” Rothenburg said.

Tennis Australia has released a statement repeating the double vaccination requirement to play in the tournament, unless a “valid medical exemption” is approved by officials.