In a time where the world is dealing with a new COVID variant called Omicron and cases are rising rampantly, tennis star, and reigning Australian Open Champion, Novak Djokovic, would compete to defend his title after announcing on Tuesday he would be medically exempt from getting vaccinated from COVID-19 and be able to compete.
This is not long after he previously stated if he was going to get vaccinated to compete Jan. 17-30 in a Melbourne tournament due to concerns over quarantine rules in Australia. The exemption for Djokovic comes with a lot of controversy, as organizers of the Australian Open had stipulated that all participants must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.
Organizers confirmed on Tuesday that Djokovic will be allowed to compete at the Australian Open and made his way to Australia shortly thereafter. They stated, "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 Immunization guidelines.''
Tennis Australia stated last month they will have a team of doctors form the various fields of immunology, infectious disease and general practice and that the move was agreed on in conjunction with the Victoria Department of Health. Applicants who pass the initial stage are allowed a second review when conducted by a government-appointed panel before the application is submitted to the Australian Immunization Register.
Djokovic's father, Srdjan, told a Serbian television channel that his son would most likely pull out of the major, stating how that Australian’s Tennis stance on mandatory rules was “blackmail.”
Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row (2019-21), and is in a three-way tie on majors (20) with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the all-time list.
Whether you think Djokovic's exemption is fair or not, all we can ponder is if this will affect other similar circumstances like this in the future for other participants.