Novak Djokovic’s vaccine exemption not due to special treatment, officials say

Australian tennis players James Duckworth and Alex De Minaur exchanged comments at a press conference in Sydney for the ATP Cup after hearing the news, showing their surprise at the decision taken by Tennis Australia (TA) and the Victorian government.

“Look, I don’t know the criteria for exemption. Yeah, apparently it’s an independent panel. It must have met the criteria,” Duckworth said.

“It is very politically correct of you,” replied De Minaur.

“I just think it’s very interesting. That’s all I’m going to say.”

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Britain’s doubles player Josh Murray has hinted that the decision may not have come right after being asked about his views at the press conference.

“You know, 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. he declares.

The tennis players’ vaccine exemption requests were examined by two separate panels.

The first panel assessed the applications according to guidelines established by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI).

Djokovic has previously expressed his disapproval of the vaccine mandates.

Source: PAA / PA

The guidelines put forward by ATAGI that justify a medical exemption are narrow. They include if a person has a health problem that could cause an adverse reaction to the vaccine, if they have had major surgery, or if they contracted COVID-19 in the past six months.

Then, as part of an initiative by the Victorian government to make the process more painful for athletes, a second independent group was set up, made up of doctors from the fields of immunology, infectious diseases and medicine. general.

AFL legend Kevin Bartlett expressed his skepticism about the move, saying “we were taken for fools” on Twitter.

TA CEO Craig Tiley defended the process, insisting that TA and the government are making it “very difficult” for tennis players to enter the country.

“We, as an event, as a state and as a country, will do everything possible to give everyone an equal and fair chance to enter the country,” he said Wednesday morning.

“Tennis [Australia] went beyond what would normally be required to enter the country. “

“We are confident with what we have put forward.”

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley addresses the media in Melbourne on Wednesday, January 5.

Source: PAA

Acting Victorian Sports Secretary Jaala Pulford admitted the Victorians would find the outcome of allowing Djokovic to enter the country and play at the Open “frustrating and upsetting”.

But she remained firm that the nine-time Grand Slam champion did not receive preferential treatment.

“I want it to be absolutely clear that, as has been the case all the time, no one is getting special treatment because of who they are or what they have accomplished professionally,” she said. .

Mr Tiley said 26 athletes and support staff had also requested medical exemption to enter the country and only a “handful” of them had been granted.

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The reasons behind the approval of the vaccine exemption are confidential; it is at the discretion of individuals, like Djokovic, to disclose them publicly.

Referring to the backlash over the news, Mr Tiley said it would be “helpful” if Djokovic shared the reasons for the medical exemption.

“We would love… Novak to talk about it and help us, but ultimately it will be up to him,” he said.

“We are not able, even legally, to divulge other people’s medical information. I encourage him to tell the community about it… we have been through a very difficult time in the past two years and would appreciate some responses to that.”

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