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Novak Djokovic not afforded ‘special opportunity’ with virus exemption, says Craig Tiley


World No.1 Novak Djokovic was not afforded “special opportunity” for his exemption to compete at the Australian Open without being vaccinated for COVID-19, says Australian Open boss Craig Tiley.

News of top-ranked Djokovic’s exemption sparked fierce backlash from the public, despite Australian Open organisers standing by the review of the applications run by the Federal and Victorian governments.

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Speaking to Nine, Tiley said of the 3000 tennis professionals travelling to Australia for the summer of tennis, 26 players or their support staff applied for a medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination but only a “handful” were given the green light.

Djokovic granted Australian Open exemption

“If they didn’t meet the guidelines, and there were many that didn’t so therefore they were rejected, but if they met the guidelines including for example – which a lot of people forget – is one of those conditions is having COVID recently, in the past six months,” Tiley said.

“Any person who met those conditions has been allowed to come in. There’s been no special favour. There’s been no special opportunity granted to Novak.”

The 2022 ATP Cup will be held in Sydney from January 1-9, with live matches, highlights, mini matches and full match replays on Stan Sport. New customers can start their free trial now by visiting: Stan.com.au/tennis

Tiley said the he understood why the public is concerned but assured the wider community all conditions were met.

“People this morning would wake up to that news [and I] would completely understand and empathise with them being completely upset with that condition,” he added.

Novak Djokovic travelling to Australia with ‘exemption’

“Really at the end of the day … not only was the process appropriately followed but the conditions in which any tennis player comes in – no matter who they are, conditions put on tennis and put on anyone coming into Australia by the Australian government.

“We’ve made that very clear from the beginning.”

Mr Tiley said no favour was shown towards Djokovic, since names were redacted during the exemption process ensuring no officials knew they were assessing the star’s application.

“The process has been very clear and we completely understand and empathise with first of all some people being upset about the fact that Novak has come in because of his statements in the past around vaccination,” he said.

“However, it’s ultimately up to him to discuss with the public his condition if he chooses to do that and the reason why he received his exemption.”

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