Australian Open boss speaks out after latest Novak Djokovic twist

Craig Tiley, pictured here addressing the media ahead of the Australian Open.
Craig Tiley has spoken out after the latest development in the Novak Djokovic saga. Image: Getty

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has responded to reports Novak Djokovic could be granted a medical exemption in order to play the Australian Open.

Djokovic's participation at the January 17-30 grand slam remains under a cloud due to his vaccination status, with the World No.1 refusing to reveal if he is double-jabbed.

On Wednesday it emerged that Djokovic has grounds to seek a medical exemption and reports stated that Tennis Australia has his backing to seek one.

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On Thursday, Tiley said applications for any exemptions from the vaccination mandate would be reviewed by an independent medical panel and have nothing to do with Tennis Australia.

He said the requests were received anonymously, meaning any potential application by nine-time champion Djokovic wouldn't be treated differently to any other.

"There's a independent panel of medical specialists and they see a blind copy of the medical exemption request," Tiley told ABC News on Thursday.

"And it's very specific as to what is eligible or not, and then that goes through that expert panel and they will make a call.

"At this point, it's in the process of being established so no medical exemptions that have been granted at this point."

Tiley said there were clear ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) guidelines for an exemption that he considered "different hurdles to cross".

He said he wasn't privy to any medical condition that Djokovic may have that would meet the criteria.

"There's no loophole ... international tennis players have exactly the same conditions as everyone coming into Victoria or coming to Australia," Tiley said.

"There's no benefit provided to any one of them on any condition and in any circumstance and that's been made clear to them from the beginning.

"We now are in a position where over six weeks ago only 50 per cent of the tennis playing group globally were vaccinated and now it's more than 95 per cent."

Craig Tiley, pictured here with Novak Djokovic after he won the Australian Open title in 2021.
Craig Tiley with Novak Djokovic after he won the Australian Open title in 2021. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Craig Tiley says Australian Open entry list isn't official

Djokovic was named on the Australian Open entry list released on Wednesday in a move that many thought was a sign Djokovic is certain to play.

However Tiley explained that the entry list isn't final and is simply a list of players who haven't officially withdrawn yet, like Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu.

"What was published is a general entry list and as a matter of course, everyone goes on the entry list," he said.

"It's not a commitment list of about who's exactly in the draw, that comes in several weeks time."

On Wednesday, Victoria's deputy premier James Merlino shot down talk of Djokovic being handed a medical exemption.

"My view on this is is really clear and really simple," Merlino said.

"Everyone's looking forward to the Australian Open and everyone who will attend - spectators, players, officials, staff - everyone is expected to be fully vaccinated.

"They're the rules. Medical exemptions are just that - it's not a loophole for privileged tennis players.

"It is a medical exemption in exceptional circumstances if you have an acute medical condition.

"My view and I think the view of all Victorians, the expectation of all Victorians is that everyone who attends the Open - player, spectator, staff, officials, everyone's fully vaccinated."

with AAP

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