Novak Djokovic on Australian Open entry list as officials deny reports of vaccination ‘loophole’

Novak Djokovic lifts the Australian Open trophy

Defending champion Novak Djokovic’s name is on the official entry list for the 2022 Australian Open, but officials have dismissed any suggestion that there is a loophole that will allow him to play without being vaccinated against Covid-19.

There has been a cloud of uncertainty surrounding Djokovic’s participation in the season-opening Grand Slam following Tennis Australia’s announcement that only fully vaccinated players will be allowed to compete.

The nine-time Australian Open champion had adopted a “wait and see” policy as he has refused to reveal his vaccination status.

However, following his inclusion in Serbia’s ATP Cup squad, there were suggestions that a loophole could see him play at Melbourne Park without being fully vaccinated.

Under the supposed clause, Djokovic would be able to apply for an exemption to compete at the ATP Cup in Sydney, but would have to quarantine for 14 days.

Once his quarantine period is over, he would be free to move to the state of Victoria to compete at the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

However, Victoria Deputy Premier James Merlino shot down the claims.

“My view on this is is really clear and really simple,” he said.

“Everyone’s looking forward to the Australian Open and everyone who will attend – spectators, players, officials, staff – everyone is expected to be fully vaccinated.

“They’re the rules. Medical exemptions are just that – it’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players.

“It is a medical exemption in exceptional circumstances if you have an acute medical condition.

“My view, and I think the view of all Victorians, the expectation of all Victorians, is that everyone who attends the Open – player, spectator, staff, officials, everyone’s fully vaccinated.”

Tennis Australia also issued a statement to “confirm that everyone entering Australia for the summer of tennis will need to meet the strict requirements set by health authorities across the country”.

“All players, participants and staff at the Australian Open have to be vaccinated,” the statement read.

“Any application for a medical exemption must follow strict government guidelines based on ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) clinical advice.

“This is the same process that applies to any person wanting to enter Australia. Any suggestion that Tennis Australia is seeking ‘loopholes’ within this process is simply untrue.”