MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic will get a chance to defend his Australian Open title after receiving a medical exemption to travel to Melbourne, ending months of uncertainty about his participation because of the strict regulations and COVID-19 vaccination requirements in place for the tournament.
The top-ranked Djokovic wrote on Instagram on Tuesday he has “an exemption permission” to travel to Australia.
Djokovic, who is seeking a record 21st Grand Slam singles title, has continually refused to reveal if he is vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Victoria state government has mandated that all players, staff and fans attending the Australian Open must be fully vaccinated unless there is a genuine reason why an exemption should be granted.
Australian Open organizers issued a statement later Tuesday to confirm Djokovic will be allowed to compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia.
“Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” the statement said. “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.”
Tennis Australia said the process included the redaction of personal information to ensure privacy for all applicants.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said “fair and independent protocols were established for assessing medical exemption applications that will enable us to ensure Australian Open 2022 is safe and enjoyable for everyone.”
“Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration,” Tiley said.
Djokovic has won nine of his 20 major titles at the Australian Open. He shares the men’s record for most majors with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.