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Medical exemptions possible for unvaccinated players and staff at 2022 Australian Open

The government and the tournament administration have confirmed that there will be medical exemptions from their vaccination mandate

Novak Djokovic Melbourne Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning his final match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev (Panoramic)

A “small number” of medical exemptions are possible for unvaccinated players and staff at next month’s Australian Open – following the previous mandate that all participants will need to have proof of vaccination.

Around 3,000 people are expected to travel to Australia and set up camp in either Sydney or Melbourne in preparation for the year’s first Grand Slam. The state government has made vaccination mandatory, but the tournament has confirmed that medical exemptions – issued by the border force agency – are possible in some circumstances.

However, anyone receiving a medical exemption would have to undergo a series of tests to prove their negative Covid-19 status, including a period of self-isolation.

“The great thing is that everyone [coming to Australia] is vaccinated,” said tournament director Craig Tiley.

“Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated and there will be a small percentage – a very small percentage – that will have a medical exemption.

“So 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.”

Tiley – ‘It’s Djokovic’s choice’

The biggest question mark remains around the participation of men’s defending champion Novak Djokovic, who has repeatedly refused to comment on his vaccination status, but whose father was quoted on Tuesday as saying: “They have to decide whether they will let Novak in. If they decide [not to allow him entry] they have to stand behind their decision. He has won the Australian Open nine times. He now wants to play, but they have to permit him to play. Novak will do what he thinks is the best for him – nobody will impose an opinion on him.”

And Tiley confirmed: “If Novak shows up at the Australian Open, he’ll either be vaccinated or he’ll have a medical exemption. [It’s] his choice on his medical condition, it’s his choice to keep personal and private like all of us would do with any condition we may or may not have. We are not going to force him or ask him to disclose that.”

Several players have already said they do not intend to compete in Melbourne, including three out of the four women’s semi-finalists from 2021 – Serena Williams, Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova, all due to injury.

Former men’s doubles champion Pierre-Hugues Herbert will not be playing as he has refused to be vaccinated. His doubles partner Nicolas Mahut has confirmed he is vaccinated.

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