Novak Djokovic celebrates Serbia's WC qualification
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Liam Broady has become the latest player to question the reasoning behind Novak Djokovic’s medical exemption. The world No 1 confirmed he was flying to Melbourne for the upcoming Australian Open after receiving “an exemption permission” following months of speculation about his participation.
Djokovic has spent several months in doubt for the season-opening Grand Slam.
After talk of a vaccine mandate, the nine-time Australian Open champion admitted in October that he “didn’t know if [he] was going” and simply said “we’ll see” when asked about his participation after tournament organisers confirmed all players needed to be fully vaccinated.
He then put his name on the entry list for both the Australian Open and the ATP Cup, a team tournament held in the lead-up for the first Major of the year, but failed to make it to Australia to join Team Serbia at the event.
On Tuesday, the world No 1 took to Instagram to announce that he was flying to Australia for the first Grand Slam of the year, with Tennis Australia later confirming Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption.
JUST IN: Novak Djokovic confirms Australian Open entry with ‘exemption’
“Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet,” Djokovic wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of himself at the airport.
“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022 !!”
Tennis Australia later said they granted Djokovic an exemption “following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” including the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health, and a panel of doctors approved by Tennis Australia.
No reason has been given for the 34-year-old’s medical exemption, but standard applicants must prove they have have an “acute major medical condition”, confirmed recovery from Covid infection in the past six months, “any serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, without another cause identified, and with no acceptable alternative vaccine available” or, in some cases, prove that “the vaccinee is a risk to themselves or others during the vaccination process”, including “a range of individuals with underlying developmental or mental health disorders”.
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Broady has now taken a jibe at Djokovic’s medical exemption, questioning the validity.
Reposting the world No 1’s announcement to his Instagram story, the British No 4 wrote: “The second AO announced there would be exemptions 8 weeks ago we all knew,” adding eye-roll and laughing emojis.
Broady, who is currently in Sydney as Great Britain’s team captain at the ATP Cup, gave a more diplomatic answer during the squad’s press conference on Tuesday.
Following a defeat for the doubles pairing of Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury, the older Murray brother admitted he didn’t think a player like himself would be given an exemption if in Djokovic’s position.
“I don’t know what to say about that really. I think if it was me that wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t be getting an exemption. But well done to him for getting clear to come to Australia and compete,” the former doubles No 1 said, after a loss to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
When asked if he thought the decision was unfair, he added: “Well, it’s whatever you want to say. That’s the situation.”
But Broady interjected, saying: “At the end of the day you kind of have to trust that he does has a valid reason for the medical exemption. That’s all you can say about it, really, isn’t it?”
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