Jamie Murray insists Novak Djokovic's Australian Open exemption is more special treatment for stars

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‘I wouldn’t be getting one’: Jamie Murray suggests Novak Djokovic’s controversial medical exemption is another example of tennis’ star players receiving special treatment as tensions rise in the locker room ahead of the Australian Open

  • Jamie Murray says Novak Djokovic’s medical exemption is tennis favouring stars
  • The reigning champion is allowed to play even though a jab is a requirement
  • Reasons for the exemption will remain private according to tournament chiefs
  • Djokovic is now free to defend his title in Australia, where Covid cases are rising 
  • Murray said if he was in a similar position, he would not be allowed to compete 


British tennis player Jamie Murray has suggested Novak Djokovic’s medical exemption that will allow him to compete at the Australian Open is another example of tennis favouring its star players. 

The Serbian, whose vaccine scepticism is well documented, has been allowed to defend his title in Melbourne by tournament chiefs, even though being jabbed is an entry requirement.

The build-up to the season’s first Grand Slam has been dominated by whether the world number one and nine-time champion, who had steadfastly refused to say whether he has been vaccinated, would be able to compete.  

Jamie Murray says Novak Djokovic's Australian Open exemption is tennis favouring star names

Jamie Murray says Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open exemption is tennis favouring star names

Murray (second left) was asked about Djokovic's medical exemption in a press conference

Murray (second left) was asked about Djokovic’s medical exemption in a press conference

The reasons for Djokovic being granted an exemption, after what Tennis Australia insists is a ‘rigorous review process’, will remain private according to tournament director Craig Tiley.

But Murray, a double Grand Slam doubles champion and brother of former British No 1 Sir Andy Murray, has insisted if he were in Djokovic’s position then he wouldn’t have been given a place in the tournament.

‘If it was me that wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t be getting an exemption,’ the Scot said as his ATP Cup team-mates started to laugh at the situation.

‘But well done to him for getting clear to come to Australia and compete.’

Tensions already appear to be simmering in the locker room with Alex de Minaur, one of Australia’s biggest tennis names, did little to hide his scepticism, commenting: ‘I just think it’s very interesting. That’s all I’m going to say.’ 

Djokovic initially confirmed the news on Instagram on Tuesday, saying: ‘Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love and respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.

The world No 1’s successfully requested for a rare exemption from vaccine requirements

The world No 1’s successfully requested for a rare exemption from vaccine requirements

‘I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!!’ 

Djokovic managed to persuade two different panels that he needs an exemption from being jabbed. 

Sportsmail understands Djokovic’s application was backed by supporting letters from doctors in Serbia. 

It will be interesting to see what sort of reception Djokovic receives from the Australian public given the country was placed under one of the longest and strictest coronavirus lockdowns.  

What’s more, Melbourne is facing a huge spike in Covid cases. In the first three days of 2022 it recorded a higher number than in all of 2020 put together.  

The Serbian, whose vaccine scepticism is well documented, will be allowed to defend his title

The Serbian, whose vaccine scepticism is well documented, will be allowed to defend his title

Djokovic was also heavily criticised for hosting a tournament, the Adria Tour competition in Belgrade, during the height of the pandemic. He and a number of other players subsequently contracted the virus. 

Nevertheless, the Australian Open provides Djokovic with another chance to move clear of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with the three having each won 20 grand slam titles.

The 34-year-old Serbian was challenging for the calendar year grand slam in 2021 but fell short in the US Open final by losing to Daniil Medvedev, the man he beat in last year’s Australian Open final.

After a sluggish initial take-up, figures from the ATP and WTA tours suggest around 90 per cent of tennis players are now fully vaccinated. 

WHY IS DJOKOVIC EXEMPT? 

Australia’s Department of Health says medical exemptions are handed out if the individual has an ‘acute major medical condition’.

Under the guidelines, these conditions could include: 

– Inflammatory cardiac illness in the last three months 

– Undergoing major surgery or hospital admission for a serious illness 

– A Covid-19 diagnosis that means vaccination cannot be made for six months

– Any serious effect to a Covid-19 vaccine in the past (Note: Djokovic has not confirmed whether or not he has been jabbed)

– If the vaccine is a risk to themselves or others during the vaccination process 

– Underlying developmental or mental health disorders 

Australia’s Deputy Premier James Merlino said last month that medical exemptions are ‘not a loophole’. 

‘Medical exemptions are just that,’ he said. ‘It’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players. 

‘They are medical exemptions in exceptional circumstances – if you have acute medical conditions.’

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