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Why Djokovic’s vaccine status probably won’t matter

The headlines surrounding the Australian Open 2022 have been dominated by the Covid-19 vaccination status of Novak Djokovic. 

djokovic vaccine status australian open

The 34 year old Serbian, who is currently the world number one in the ATP rankings, has refused to declare his vaccination status.

Djokovic has in the recent past given statements to the media that have appeared to cement his anti-vaccination status.

Other unvaccinated tennis stars have already confirmed that they have withdrawn from the 2022 Australian open due to their unwillingness to get vaccinated.

Will Djokovic play in the Australian Open 2022?

The short answer is probably yes, but is that because he’s about to change his stance and get vaccinated? Almost definitely no.

So how then will Djokovic get into Australia in order to play the competition in Melbourne? 

It has been confirmed this week that unvaccinated tennis stars wishing to play in the Australian Open may still be able to enter the country and play in the competition by seeking a medical exemption. However, it’s not a straightforward process.

The Victorian Department of Health and Tennis Australia have combined to create a set of rules for unvaccinated tennis players who wish to play in the Australian Open 2022, with the final protocol being released on Thursday (December 16).

Players will need to argue their case in front of two different panels of medical experts if they are to be given an exemption from the current Covid-19 vaccination rules that are required to be met in order to enter Australia and Victoria.

No tennis people involved in the exemption review process 

Despite the fact that the Victorian Department of Health and Tennis Australia worked together in order to create the protocol, no one from TA, or from tennis in general, will be sitting on either of the panels that the players seeking exemption must face.

Instead, both panels will be entirely made up of medical experts, including doctors and other medical professionals who specialise in infections diseases, immunology and other fields relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic.

There has been some criticism of the fact that no one from Tennis Australia will be involved in the review process. The Premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews, has himself called for TA representatives to take appear in the review panels in some capacity.

Privacy for applicants will be ensured

All tennis players who choose to go through this review process will have their personal information protected, and their privacy ensured. However, should Novak Djokovic announce that he is to play at the Australian Open 2022, it will be pretty safe to assume how he got there.

Two tennis players, Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France and Olivia Gadecki of Australia, have both already withdrawn from the competition due to the fact they do not wish to get vaccinated.

This is yet another move that could spark controversy. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, Australians have been under strict lockdown rules and travel restrictions, leaving many unable to visit close friends and relatives for over two years. Meanwhile, exemptions have been granted to celebrities and athletes on numerous occasions, much to the ire of a large proportion of the Australian public.

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