Novak Djokovic ‘made situation worse’ says Jo Durie
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Grigor Dimitrov has given his verdict on players competing at the Australian Open with a medical exemption. Novak Djokovic announced on Tuesday he would be travelling to Melbourne to compete in the season-opening Grand Slam after receiving one, despite not being vaccinated.
Medical exemptions have been the talk of the tennis world after it was reported that Novak Djokovic was looking to apply for one to gain entry into Australia.
Last month the world No 1 put his name on the entry list for both the ATP Cup and Australian Open, as it emerged that he was looking to be granted an exemption.
After failing to make it to Australia in time for the ATP Cup, on Tuesday Djokovic confirmed he was flying to Melbourne for the season-opening Grand Slam after receiving “an exemption permission”.
“Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet,” he said in an Instagram post, alongside a photo of himself at the airport.
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“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 !!”
Tennis Australia later confirmed that Djokovic’s exemption was medical, and had been “granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.”
However, the certainty of Djokovic competing in Australia is now in doubt again following issues with the star’s visa application.
Djokovic and Tennis Australia have both come under fire following the decision, with the likes of Jamie Murray questioning the fairness of the exemption.
Speaking on the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s medical exemption, the older Murray brother said on Tuesday: “I don’t know what to say about that really. I think if it was me that wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t be getting an exemption. But well done to him for getting clear to come to Australia and compete.”
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Murray, speaking after losing the doubles at the ATP Cup alongside compatriot Joe Salisbury, was also asked whether he thought the decision was unfair, and added: “Well, it’s whatever you want to say. That’s the situation.”
But one player who has not taken issue with Djokovic’s medical exemption is Grigor Dimitrov.
The current world No 28 said that he didn’t have a problem with the decision, permitting one thing.
“I’m not a doctor but I’m sure there’s a reason that if somebody needs that [an exemption],” he said, speaking on Tuesday while in Melbourne for the ATP 250 event.
“If it’s legit … if it’s to that extent and that point, then of course.”
2011 US Open champion and Australian tennis icon Sam Stosur shared a similar stance, trusting the medical experts and backing exemptions if they are for “the right reasons”
The former doubles world No 1, who will be competing in singles for the last time ever at the Australian Open this month, said: “I think if they’ve been given a medical exemption, then it’s for a medical exemption, so I think you’ve got to do that. But, yeah, hopefully it’s for the right reasons.
“I think first and foremost Australia, especially in Victoria, it’s been a tough slog the last two years, so I think for things to get turned around in another way for tennis players I don’t think necessarily would be right.
“As long as it’s all for the right reasons and it is for true medical exemptions, then I mean I don’t think you can really argue with that.”
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