Despite Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley claiming there has been “no special opportunity following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.” granted to Novak Djokovic after revealing he had been given an exemption to enter the country without a vaccination, the World No. 1 is coming under fire from all quarters.
Speaking on Australia’s Today show Tennis Australia Supremo Craig Tiley claimed “We made it extra difficult for anyone applying for an application to ensure it was the right process and to make sure the medical experts deal with it independently. There were 26 applications and a handful have been granted”
Twice Australian Open quarter finalist and fellow ATP anti-vax professional Tennys Sandgren was first to put the boot in claiming he himself had not meet the criteria for a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open and would not be there, unlike the nine time Australian Open winner and defending Champion Novak Djokovic, after months of prevarication about his vaccine status.
Jamie Murray talking at the British team’s post ATP Cup defeat to Canada when asked about the decision had no hesitation in stating “If that had been me, I wouldn’t have got one” as his team mates could hardly contain their laughter.
As well as fellow pros lining up to take pot shots the decision has been slammed by local politicians and branded “disgusting” by some of them, claiming the decision goes against all efforts to fight the spread of Covid in Victoria. “The citizens of Victoria have been to hell and back” one said
The reason for the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s successful medical exemption application remains a mystery, and probably will continue to do so.
How did the Serb dodge the bullet? One theory is that he has recently tested positive for the virus, not for the first time, which would allow him to defer taking the vaccine.
That however could prove to be only a temporary refuge and is not going to work at the other three Grand Slams of 2022 .
Announcing his decision on his social media account on Tuesday Djokovic said that he was flying to Melbourne to compete in the season-opening Grand Slam, having received “an exemption permission” to travel to Australia without being fully vaccinated.
The defending Australian Open champion, looking for a record breaking 21st Grand Slam Title, shared an airport photo of himself on Instagram, writing:-“Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love & 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. I’m ready to live and breathe tennis in the next few weeks of competition. Let’s go 2022!”
Djokovic may have dodged the vaccine, but there will be no hiding from the Melbourne crowd who have never treated him as a favourite son unlike Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, and are likely to express their opinions vocally as soon as he sets foot on Rod Laver Arena on 17 January.
Main photo:- Look out Melbourne – here I come! Novak Djokovic heads down under no doubt to a “warm” Aussie welcome ©Instagram