‘Let’s go 2022’ | The Daily Star

Novak Djokovic ended speculation about his Australian Open title defense by announcing on Tuesday that he would compete in the Grand Slam season opener after receiving a medical exemption from getting the shot against COVID-19.

The world number one, who had refused to disclose his vaccination status, has previously said he was unsure whether he would participate in the tournament Jan. 17-30 in Melbourne due to concerns over Australia’s quarantine rules.

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“I spent some fantastic quality time with my loved ones during the break and today I’m heading to Down Under with an exemption. Let’s go in 2022,” the Serbian said on Instagram.

The organizers of Tennis Australia (TA) had stipulated that all Grand Slam participants should be vaccinated against the new coronavirus or benefit from a medical exemption granted by a panel of independent experts.

The panel would be made up of doctors from the fields of immunology, infectious diseases and general medicine and this decision was agreed in conjunction with the Victoria Department of Health.

TA said Djokovic, 34, had requested a medical exemption which was granted after a “rigorous review process” involving two independent panels of medical experts.

“One of them was the independent medical exemptions review committee appointed by the Victoria Department of Health,” TA said in a statement.

“They assessed all applications to see if they met the guidelines of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI).”

He added that the process included drafting personal information to ensure the confidentiality of all applicants.

A government in the state of Victoria upheld the exemption, telling the Herald Sun newspaper that any player who obtained one would have gone through a two-step process to verify that they had a medical condition that met the criteria for the exemption. .

“I am ready to live and breathe tennis over the next few weeks of competition. Thank you all for the support,” Djokovic added in his post, which was accompanied by a photo of him at an airport.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said in TA’s statement that “fair and independent protocols” have been established to assess requests for medical exemptions to ensure the safety of the Open. from Australia.

“The central point of this process was that decisions were made by independent medical experts and that each candidate was given due consideration,” Tiley said.

The exemption, however, was questioned by Britain’s doubles player Jamie Murray, who said he was unlikely to get one if he was in Djokovic’s place.

“I think if it was me who wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t get an exemption… but kudos to him for being allowed to come to Australia and compete,” he said afterwards. double rubber against Canada in the ATP Cup.

“At the end of the day, you have to somehow believe he has a valid reason for the medical exemption.”

Djokovic is heading to Australia after training in Marbella, Spain in recent days.

Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including the last three, and is tied at three in 20 majors with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in the all-time roster.

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