Novak Djokovic Receives COVID-19 Vaccine Medical Exemption from Australian Open

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2022

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory over Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik during a Davis Cup quarter final match between Serbia and Kazakhstan at the Madrid Arena stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

Australian Open organizers confirmed Tuesday that reigning Aussie Open champion Novak Djokovic received a medical exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, allowing him to play in the tournament this month.

Novak Djokovic @DjokerNole

Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, love &amp; joy in every moment &amp; may you feel love &amp; respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.<br><br>I’ve spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over break &amp; today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022! <a href="https://t.co/e688iSO2d4">pic.twitter.com/e688iSO2d4</a>

Organizers said in a statement:

"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 Immunisation guidelines."

Djokovic has not revealed his vaccination status, but he had expressed doubt about whether he could play in the 2022 Australian Open because of the requirements.

Djokovic's father, Srdjan Djokovic, told Serbian television before the exemption that Nole was likely to withdraw from the Australian Open, and he compared the tournament's vaccination requirement to blackmail.

The 34-year-old Djokovic is one of the greatest and most accomplished tennis players of all time with 20 career Grand Slam singles titles to his credit.

Three of those titles came last year as Djokovic won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon before falling short of the calendar Slam by losing to Daniil Medvedev in the final of the U.S. Open.

Djokovic has achieved his greatest success at the Australian Open, winning the tournament a record nine times, including each of the past three years.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic remain the three biggest stars in men's tennis, which is fitting since they are all tied for the Open Era record with 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

Federer is out for the Aussie Open while continuing to recover from injuries that cost him most of last year, while Nadal appears ready to compete after recovering from COVID-19.

Should Djokovic and Nadal both progress through the Australian Open, a final for the all-time Grand Slam singles title lead could be in the offing.