Djokovic told he'll be on 'the next plane home' from Australia if he fails to prove medical exemption

By Sports Desk January 05, 2022

Novak Djokovic will be on the "next plane home" if he fails to prove he merits a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open.

Tournament organisers have faced a backlash after it was announced this week that Djokovic has been granted a medical exemption to play in the first grand slam of the year.

The Serbian has refused to state whether he has been vaccinated, but protocols in Australia require proof that competitors and staff have been jabbed or have a medical exemption to compete at Melbourne Park.

Tournament director Craig Tiley insisted that the 20-time major champion had not been given a "special favour" to play in the tournament.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday stated that Djokovic will not defend his title if he fails to show that he is exempt.

He told reporters: "We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that.

"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."

Tiley told The Today Show on Tuesday: "There's been no special favour. There's been no special opportunity granted to Novak.

"As an organisation and as a sport, we've done what everyone else does and would do if they wanted to come to Australia and under certain conditions.

"And we have abided by those conditions and I know Australia's had the most comprehensive response to COVID of any nation in the world. And our governments have done everything they humanly possibly can to keep us safe.

"It's ultimately the decision of the medical experts and we follow that accordingly. In this case, Novak made that application.

"And like others, there's been 26 athletes and their primary support staff that have made applications and a handful of those have been granted by the panel.

"The conditions in which any tennis player comes in, no matter who they are, are conditions that have been put on tennis and put on anyone coming into Australia by the Australian government."

The Australian Open begins on January 17.

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