Conflicting reports emerge about Novak Djokovic's Aus Open participation

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Novak Djokovic, pictured here posing with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after winning the Australian Open in 2020.
Novak Djokovic poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after winning the Australian Open in 2020. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

A number of Serbian media outlets have provided conflicting reports about whether or not Novak Djokovic will participate at the Australian Open.

The World No.1 is on the entry list for the year's first grand slam but is yet to commit to the event because of the Covid-19 vaccination mandate agreed to by Tennis Australia and the Victorian Department of Health.

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All spectators, staff and players at the Australian Open must be double-vaccinated, or have a valid medical exemption.

On Friday, Serbian daily newspaper Informer reported that Djokovic has had a request for a medical exemption rejected by Australian authorities.

Informer quoted a source 'close to the Djokovic family' that the 34-year-old is explicitly opposed to the Covid vaccine and will not get the jab in order to play the year-opening grand slam.

However The Telegraf in Serbia later contradicted that information by claiming Djokovic has been given the green light to play.

Djokovic has repeatedly refused to disclose whether or not he is vaccinated, citing privacy concerns.

The World No.1 withdrew from the season-opening ATP Cup this week in a move that increased speculation that he won't travel Down Under for the Melbourne Park grand slam.

Dusan Lajovic, the late call-up to replace Djokovic for Serbia in the ATP Cup, said he and his teammates were unsure of the World No.1's participation in Melbourne.

“He kept in touch with all of us and it was a last-minute decision, the Australian Open is still uncertain, I don’t know the information,” Lajovic said on Thursday.

“I think that will come in the next couple of days or whenever is the deadline. We don’t know right now, but hopefully he’ll be there and be able to play the grand slam.”

Lajovic appeared to confirm speculation that Djokovic had applied for a medical exemption.

"He just said that he's not coming to the ATP Cup and he's trying to get to the Australian Open," Lajovic said.

"He said, 'I'm not coming guys to the ATP Cup, we'll see about the Australian Open'. I mean, he didn't specify if he's coming or not but that he's waiting for a decision."

Novak Djokovic, pictured here watching on as Dusan Lajovic plays in the ATP Cup in 2021.
Novak Djokovic watches on as Dusan Lajovic plays in the ATP Cup in 2021. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

No one will know if players receive medical exemptions

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley recently admitted that a small cohort of players and staff would be allowed into Melbourne Park without being vaccinated after being granted medical exemptions.

"Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated and there will be a small percentage - a very small percentage - that will have a medical exemption," Tiley said.

"So if any player, fan (or) workforce is on site here, you're either vaccinated or you have a medical exemption that's approved and you're on the Australian Immunisation Register.

"That provides us with safety and an extra level of comfort on site."

Because of privacy protocols, no one will ever know if players are granted a medical exemption unless they reveal so themselves.

"If Novak shows up at the Australian Open, he'll either be vaccinated or he'll have a medical exemption," Tiley said.

"(It's) his choice on his medical condition, it's his choice to keep personal and private like all of us would do with any condition we may or may not have.

"We are not going to force him or ask him to disclose that."

with agencies

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