Australian Open 2021: Craig Tiley says no loophole can be used for Novak Djokovic to compete
The Australian Open boss has reminded tennis stars they will not be given special treatment by health authorities, further clouding the involvement of Novak Djokovic at next year’s event.
Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open playing status remains unclear, with tournament director Craig Tiley unaware of any condition that may grant him a medical exemption.
The world No. 1, who could win a record-breaking 21st grand slam title if he makes the trip to Melbourne, has steadfastly refused to reveal whether he is vaccinated against Covid-19.
Anyone planning to compete at next month’s Australian Open must be fully vaccinated or receive a medical exemption, which Tiley said was rare.
Djokovic is on the entry lists for both the ATP Cup in Sydney and the Melbourne Park grand slam, but all that confirms is he has not withdrawn yet.
“To be clear upfront, no one can play the Australian Open unless they are vaccinated, on either a double dose of all the required vaccines or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson, which also is an approved vaccine,” Tiley told ABC.
“The only condition at which, outside of being vaccinated, that you could compete is if you receive a medically approved exemption from Australian authorities, specifically against the very specific ATAGI guidelines.
“It’s very clear — there’s no loophole — and there’s no condition of which you can play the Australian Open unless you meet that criteria.
“What was published yesterday was a general entry list and, as a matter of course, everyone goes on the entry list.
“It’s not a commitment list about exactly who’s in the draw. That comes in several weeks’ time when the actual list and draw gets finalised for the Australian Open.”
An independent panel of medical specialists assesses all medical exemption requests and Tiley said they didn’t know the identity of anyone who applied.
“It’s very specific as to what is eligible or not, and then that goes through to that expert panel and they’ll make a call, so at this point it’s in the process of being established,” he said.
“I’ve seen reports this morning. There’s been no medical exemptions that have been granted at this point.”
Tiley would not be drawn on whether a professional athlete such as Djokovic should be considered for a medical exemption, if that was a path he was considering.
“International tennis players (must abide by) exactly the same conditions as everyone coming into Victoria and coming into Australia,” he 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 the tennis players from the beginning.
“In fact, we now are in a position where only six weeks ago only 50 per cent of the tennis playing group globally were vaccinated and now it’s more than 95 per cent.
“That in itself is a significant improvement and the majority of them wanting to play need to be vaccinated.”
Originally published as Australian Open 2021: Craig Tiley says no loophole can be used for Novak Djokovic to compete