Novak Djokovic is a long-standing tennis player who has divided opinions. He has elicited fervent support, but also anger.

The Australian Open granted the world number one a medical exemption that allows him to play in the Australian Open. 

However, tennis figures have been coy or quiet at first. It is partly because the news broke in late Australia night, as many players who were preparing for the grand final in Australia, had either gone to bed, or moved away from the media.

The medical exemption to Novak Djokovic to defend his Australian Open title has divided opinion

Opinions are divided about Novak Djokovic being allowed to use a medical exemption to defend the Australian Open title.

The exemption comes after a months-long battle with the Victorian government, officials and event organisers (pictured, Djokovic attends a sports game on December 14)

The exemption comes after a months-long battle with the Victorian government, officials and event organisers (pictured, Djokovic attends a sports game on December 14)

A short Instagram post revealed that the multi-time grand Slam champion and nine-time Australian Open winner was headed to Melbourne this Tuesday.

“I spent wonderful time with my friends over break, and today I’m going down Under with an exemption permit. Let’s get 2022! He wrote. 

After months of negotiations with officials, the Victorian government and organizers, the exemption was granted to the tennis star. 

Queensland senator Matt Canavan said letting Djokovic play in the first grand slam of the year posed ‘little risk’ because the tennis star had contracted Covid-19 before.  

On Wednesday’s Today, Mr Canavan stated that natural immunity is stronger than vaccinations. 

“There’s very little chance Novak Djokovic will be allowed in.

After Victoria had recorded 14,000 hospital admissions and 516 inpatients, the senator stated that the player would not be able to harm Victoria’s healthcare system. 

I've spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022 !!' Djokovic wrote on Tuesday night

It’s been a wonderful time spent with loved ones during the break. I now have an exemption permit to travel down Under. Let’s get 2022! Djokovic posted Tuesday night

The 20-time grand slam winner and nine-time Australian Open champion revealed he was heading to Melbourne on Tuesday night in a brief Instagram post (pictured)

A quick Instagram post by the twenty-time grand champion and nine-time Australian Open winner revealed that he was headed to Melbourne on Tuesday evening.

“Yes. We would all love for rules to be applied consistently and literally. But some rules may be temporary, Mr Canavan claimed. 

“We need to move forward with our lives and get back to a more sensible world. I believe we are very near that goal with Omicron, which is supposedly less dangerous.

Tennis Australia and Victoria government have both made this change. They had both previously stated that they would not accept unvaccinated tennis players. 

Djokovic caught the virus at a party that he hosted in the middle the pandemic. Djokovic hasn’t revealed whether he was jabbed.  

Current exemptions for vaccinations in Australia are given to those who have received anaphylaxis due to a previously administered vaccine or the ingredient of the prescribed jabs.

Immunocompromised people may be granted an exemption under certain conditions.

Queensland senator Matt Canavan (pictured) said letting Djokovic play in the first grand slam of the year posed 'little risk' because the tennis star had contracted Covid-19 before

Matt Canavan, a Queensland senator (pictured), said that Djokovic could play at the grand slam for the year because he had previously contracted Covid-19.

Djokovic (pictured with his wife Jelena) is understood to be one of several players given medical exemptions to play at the Australian Open

Djokovic is pictured here with Jelena, his wife. He was one of many players to receive medical exemptions from playing at the Australian Open.

Australian Open organizers claim that the medical exemption was granted after a ‘rigorous process’. This included a review of the guidelines provided by the Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in the country (ATAGI), and approval by Victoria’s Health Department.

It is certain to anger many Australians. They have been informed that they are not allowed to re-enter Australia unless they are fully vaccinated. If they don’t, they will be held in quarantine for two weeks. Some people vent their fury on the internet.

Jamie Murray was the British doubles player and had just participated in the ATP Cup. His thoughts were shared when he was asked. He paused and said: “But well done, he for coming to Australia to compete.”

At the press conference, Murray’s reaction to the news was more than a little alarmist. The news was received with more caution by the Australian players Alex de Minaur and James Duckworth.

Duckworth stated, “I do not know what the exemption criteria are, but it appears that the panel is independent, so he must meet the criteria. So, yeah. If he meets the criteria then, yeah, I should allow him to attend.”

De Minaur laughed and said, “That’s quite politically correct.”

Djokovic (pictured heading to Melbourne) contracted the virus while hosting a party in the middle of the pandemic and has never explicitly revealed if he is or isn't jabbed

Djokovic (pictured going to Melbourne) was infected with the virus during a party that he hosted at the height of the pandemic. It is not known if Djokovic is jabbed.

Australian players Alex de Minaur (pictured) and James Duckworth had mixed responses to the news of the world no.1's exemption to play in the grand slam

Australians Alex de Minaur and James Duckworth were mixed reactions to news that the world number one was exempt from the grand slam.

Australian No.1 stated that he thought it was very intriguing. It is just what it is. I only hope the exemptions were granted to the other players I have heard of.

Take a poll


  • Yes 33 votes
  • No 233 votes

Richard Ings (the former chief of Australia’s anti-doping agency ASADA) was less cautious.

He wrote that all the talk of vaccination status being private and personal was nonsense, adding on Twitter: “Clearly all the talk of vaccination status being private and personal only held water to the point where it was tossed back in front of vaccinated Australians,”  

After announcing his plans to travel, the Serbian received 32,400 Likes, 6,500 Retweets, and 5,900 Replies within seven hours.

These numbers, at 8.8 million followers, aren’t particularly impressive. The content was more important. It was not easy to find support from anti-vaxxers or compatriots.

There was much more, and often it was very strong-worded criticism from Australians. Many of them also took aim at the government. 

The Serbian tennis star (pictured) has repeatedly refused to confirm if he is vaccinated or not

Photo: Serbian tennis superstar (pictured) repeatedly refuses to confirm his vaccination status.

Several took to Twitter to announce they would boycott the tournament if Djokovic was allowed to play while others said they would refuse to watch the TV coverage. 

Because the Serbian tennis legend has been allowed an exemption, he will not have to go through two weeks quarantine at a hotel like other unvaccinated guests. 

Djokovic, however, will need to adhere to the same guidelines as full-vaccinated travelers – namely, taking a PCR testing on arrival and then isolating the results until they are confirmed.  

It is despite the strong words of Craig Tilley, the Australian Open Director and the Victorian Premier, who both vowed that unvaccinated guests would be not welcome. 

TA CEO Craig Tiley stated that the Premier made it clear last year when he announced that anyone wishing to enter Victoria for the Australian Open must have been fully vaccinated.

It is only by following one path that everyone can be safe, It is understood by everyone in the group. All staff at the Australian Open must be immunized, including our patrons.

It’s right to vaccinate more people than you can count in an area where the state has over 90% coverage.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews (pictured) said last year he would not 'facilitate' unvaccinated tennis stars entering the country.

Pictured: Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said last year that he wouldn’t ‘facilitate” unvaccinated tennis players entering the country.

The Victorian Premier Dan Andrews stated last year that he wouldn’t ‘facilitate unvaccinated tennis players entering the country.

“I don’t know if I’m going to tell people they can’t get to the pub tonight without being double-vaccinated, but there are some high-profile individuals who have chosen not to be vaxxed. He said in defiance that he was not going to facilitate their coming here.

There are more to come. 


The Department of Health in Australia states that medical exemptions can be granted to individuals with a ‘acute medical condition.

These conditions can be included in the guidelines as follows:

Inflammatory cardio illness within the last 3 months

Major surgery, hospitalization for serious illnesses

Covid-19 is a diagnosis that states that vaccination can’t be given for at least six months.

– If there has been any serious side effect from the Covid-19 vaccine (Djokovic hasn’t confirmed if he was jabbed).

– If they are concerned that the vaccine could pose a threat to their safety or the health of others,

– Underlying developmental or mental health disorders

James Merlino (victoria’s Deputy Premier) stated that medical exemptions were not a loophole last month.

He said, “Medical exemptions just that.” It is not for the privileged players of tennis.

“They are exceptions for medical reasons in extraordinary circumstances, if you have severe medical conditions.”