Australia wants proof Novak Djokovic qualified for COVID-19 exemption

The prime minister of Australia wants proof of Novak Djokovic’s exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine that cleared him to participate in the Australian Open later this month.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that Djokovic is on “the next plane home” if his public claim of a legitimate exemption can’t be proven in a timely fashion.

The Serbian had said he wasn’t likely to play in the event based on harsh quarantine rules. But a two-step application process to Tennis Australia led to the exemption.

Exemptions can be granted based on “adverse reactions to previous vaccines” and a history of heart inflammation, among others, according to Tennis Australia. The reason for Djokovic’s exemption is not being shared at this time, the organization’s CEO said.

“We completely understand and empathize with people being upset about the fact that Novak has come in because of his statements over the past couple of years around vaccination,” Craig Tiley of Tennis Australia said. “However, it is ultimately up to him to discuss with the public his condition, if he chooses to do that, and the reasons why he received an exemption.”

More than 90 percent of Australia has received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination and the country has been strict with travel and large gatherings.

Djokovic said Tuesday he was ready for the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 17, but his vaccination status is not confirmed. He was granted an exemption, which caused ripple effects in the public over what some termed undue special treatment for athletes.

“We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that,” Morrison said at a press conference regarding the spike in COVID-19 cases this month. “If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home. There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever.”

–Field Level Media

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