Melbourne: World No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic might well be granted “medical exemption” to play in the Australian Open, beginning January 17, even though tournament director Craig Tiley did not shed light on any development with regard to the Serbian’s participation on Wednesday.
Tiley confirmed on Wednesday that a “very small percentage” of players and officials would be granted medical exemption to enter Melbourne Park unvaccinated, raising hopes that Djokovic — nine-time winner and the defending champion here — could compete in the opening major of the year without disclosing his COVID-19 vaccination status.
Djokovic is reportedly a strong opponent of players being forced to get vaccinated to compete in tournaments and has not yet disclosed his vaccination status.
Earlier, the Australian Open organisers had said that no “medical exemptions” would be granted to players unless there was a genuine reason.
But on Wednesday, Tiley conceded that some people would be given an exemption, although the number would be very small. “The great thing is that everyone (coming to Melbourne Park) is vaccinated,” Tiley was quoted as saying by sen.com.au.
“Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated and there will be a small percentage — a very small percentage — that will have a medical exemption.
“If any player, fan (or) workforce is on site here, you’re either vaccinated or you have a medical exemption that’s approved and you’re on the Australian Immunisation Register. That provides us with safety and an extra level of comfort on site.”
Events will begin at the Melbourne Park on January 3 as three lead-up events are lined up ahead of the opening major of the year, starting on January 17.