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Australian prime minister pressing Novak Djokovic for details on medical exemption


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said tennis player Novak Djokovic will need to prove his medical exemption when he lands in the country or he will be “on the next plane home,” according to media reports.

“We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that,” Morrison said, according to Reuters, after a meeting with state leaders on the increasing COVID-19 infections in the country.

However, according to Morrison, “if that evidence is insufficient” then he will “not 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,” he added.

Djokovic was granted a medical exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement by authorities to defend his Australian Open tennis title this year. 

On Tuesday, the 34-year-old revealed on Instagram that he had “exemption permission” from Tennis Australia to compete and was on a plane to Melbourne. 

Tennis Australia said on Tuesday that Djokovic had applied for a medical exemption that was granted after a “rigorous review process” involving two separate, independent panels of medical experts, Reuters reported.

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said in a statement that “fair and independent protocols” had been established for assessing medical exemption applications at the Australian Open, according to the newswire.

“Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration,” Tiley said.

However, critics have bashed the decision by officials to grant Djokovic and exemption to play. 

“I think lots of people in the Victorian community will find this to be a disappointing outcome,” acting Victorian Sports Minister Jaala Pulford told reporters on Tuesday.

Melbourne sports personality Andy Maher called out the state government for granting the tennis star and exemption.

“Australians have been denied for two years, but this bloke — who’s taken extraordinary liberties in the face of the coronavirus — gets his exemption. Novak Djokovic is an all-time great, but he ain’t essential,” Maher wrote on social media, according to NZ Herald.

Djokovic, who is currently ranked as the world’s top singles player by the governing body for men’s tennis, the Association of Tennis Professionals, previously said his vaccination status was a “private matter.”

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