Novak Djokovic Will Compete In Australian Open Unvaccinated After Securing Medical Exemption

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Robert Hart   Forbes U.S. Staff

Novak Djokovic Will Compete In Australian Open Unvaccinated After Securing Medical Exemption

Photo: Novak Djokovic Twitter

Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player, announced Tuesday he will defend his Australian Open title in Melbourne later this month after securing a medical exemption from being vaccinated against Covid-19, ending weeks of speculation about whether he would skip the contest over its vaccine requirements. 

KEY FACTS

- In an Instagram post Tuesday, the tennis star said he was “heading Down Under with an exemption permission” to compete in the tournament. 

- The post ends weeks of speculation over whether the men’s No. 1, who declined to confirm whether he had been vaccinated against Covid-19, would return to Melbourne and defend his title.

- The contest—and Australia—has strict vaccine requirements, which stipulate players must be fully vaccinated to play or secure a medical exemption from a panel of specialists.  

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The tournament begins in Melbourne on January 17. Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times and, along with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, holds the joint record of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles. Federer will not compete in Melbourne due to an injury but Nadal, despite recently testing positive for Covid-19, confirmed his participation. 

KEY BACKGROUND

Djokovic’s refusal to reveal his vaccination status—something he called a “private matter”—left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over his participation in major tournaments in 2022. This uncertainty intensified when the Serbian national withdrew from the country’s ATP Cup team in late December. 

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Robert Hart   Forbes U.S. Staff

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a freelance journalist and policy analyst covering science, tech and health. I have a master’s degree in Biological Natural Sciences and a master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge.