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Many Australians have been angered by the news that Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic will play the Australian Open after receiving an exemption from vaccination regulations.
All tournament players and staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive a waiver from an independent panel of experts.
The organizers maintain that the current champion of the competition received no special treatment.
But Australians, some of whom are still unable to travel between states or internationally, criticized authorities, politicians and Djokovic himself.
Craig Tiley, director of the Australian Open – the first Grand Slam of the tennis season – said that 26 athletes applied for a medical exemption and that a “handful” of them were granted under the guidelines set by federal regulators.
“We made it extremely difficult for applicants to ensure that the process was correct and to ensure that medical experts dealt with it independently,” Tiley told Australia’s Channel 9 on Wednesday.
However, the national government said that the tennis player will have to prove upon entering the country you cannot be vaccinated.
“While the (regional) Government of Victoria and Tennis Australia may allow an unvaccinated player to compete in the Australian Open, it is the Government of Australia that will enforce our requirements at the Australian border,” the minister said in a statement. Australian Outback Karen Andrews.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was even more blunt: if the tennis player does not give enough evidence, he will be put “on the next plane home.”
“Opposed” to vaccines
The tournament starts in Melbourne on January 17 and Djokovic wrote on Instagram Tuesday: “I’ve had a fantastic quality time with my loved ones on vacation and I’m going there today with a waiver authorizing it.”
“Come on 2022! I am ready to live and breathe tennis in the coming weeks of competition ”.
The number 1 in the world according to the ATP classification has not spoken about his vaccination status, but in April he said publicly: “I am personally opposed to vaccines and I would not like anyone to force me to vaccinate to be able to travel.”
The decision is highly controversial in a country where there are tens of thousands of covid cases for the first time after going through some of the toughest restrictions in the world.
Many have accused the government of allowing the rich and famous to do what they want while ordinary people have to be separated from their sick or dying loved ones.
“I don’t care how good a tennis player is. If you refuse to be vaccinated, should not be allowed in“Dr. Stephen Parnis tweeted on Tuesday.
“If the exemption is true, it sends a terrible message to millions seeking to reduce the risk of covid-19 for themselves and others. Vaccination reflects respect, Novak ”.
Australian tennis player of Spanish and Uruguayan descent Álex de Miñaur said at a press conference: “I just think it’s very interesting. That is all I am going to say ”.
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