The mystery surrounding Novak Djokovic's participation at the Australian Open has taken a further twist, with the tennis superstar attending a packed basketball game in Serbia on Tuesday.
Djokovic's vaccination status remains a mystery less than a month from the first grand slam of the year in Melbourne in January.
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The Victorian government has introduced a vaccination mandate for anyone wanting to enter Melbourne Park for the event - including players, officials and fans.
Djokovic has continually refused to reveal whether or not he is fully vaccinated, leading many to believe hasn't had the jab and won't be able to play the Australian Open.
However there is a school of thought that the men's World No.1 has been vaccinated for months and is simply taking a stand against having to reveal the fact publicly.
On Tuesday, the saga took an interesting turn when Djokovic attended a Euroleague basketball game in Serbia between Crvena Zvezda and Barcelona.
It is not known whether vaccination was a requirement for entry, with about 30,000 people packing the arena.
Djokovic was wearing a mask for the majority of the game, however he was spotted not wearing it a number of times.
"I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not, it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry," Djokovic said in October.
"People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person.
"Whatever you say 'yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it', they will take advantage."
Djokovic also attended a music festival in New York in September after the US Open - an event that reportedly required vaccination proof for entry.
— Saša Ozmo (@ozmo_sasa) December 14, 2021
When @DjokerNole arrived in the stadium to watch the 🏀 game with Vasek 😁 #djokovic @novakfanclub
Put the sound on!!! So moving ❤️❤️
📸: https://t.co/kMmjUGioeO #EuropaLeague #kkcz pic.twitter.com/YwINZo0o3S
— Julie 🇫🇷🇬🇧 (@NDjokofan) December 14, 2021
— Sapientia grano ®️ (@GranoSapientia) December 14, 2021
Still no word on Novak Djokovic's vaccination status
After months of playing hardball against the unvaccinated wanting to enter Australia, the Victorian government has seemingly lobbed the ball into Tennis Australia's court.
On Monday, sports minister Martin Pakula followed the lead of premier Dan Andrews, who last week said he was expecting TA to set up an independent panel to preside over any medical exemption claims.
But while declining to directly answer who will be responsible for approving or denying any requested exemptions, Pakula warned they wouldn't be easy to come by.
"Tennis Australia will have more to say about that, I would've thought, in the next day or so," Paulka told reporters in Melbourne.
"The Premier made a point late last week (about that) and there's been discussions over the weekend.
"I'm quite confident that any claim for a medical exemption by any player - and let's be clear, a medical exemption is effectively you've got one of those conditions that means you can't get vaccinated - and any claim for a medical exemption will be verified by an expert panel.
"So it's going to have to be absolutely legit and I suspect that will be a pretty high bar to jump."
Asked if there was any update on whether Djokovic would play the Open, Pakula said: "No firm idea - it will be up to Novak to decide whether or not he chooses to be vaccinated."
Just hours after Tennis Australia said it wouldn't be involved in the approval of any medical exemptions, Andrews on Thursday seemed to throw the ball back in TA's court.
"I'm briefed that TA are looking very closely at whether they might put in place a review mechanism with a panel of medical experts to review any exemptions that were granted and I fully support that," Andrews told reporters.
"If TA go down the review process to check that all of the exemptions were appropriate, then I think that would be a very good step for them to take."
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