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Novak Djokovic Receives Medical Exemption to Play Australian Open

Novak Djokovic will defend his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will defend his crown in Melbourne.

The world No. 1 has received a medical exemption and will play the 2022 Australian Open, which starts on January 17th.

The 34-year-old Djokovic announced he will play Melbourne on an exemption in this Instagram post.

“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission,” Djokovic posted on Instagram. “Let’s go 2022 !!”

Tennis Australia confirmed Djokovic will play on a medical exemption after review by two independent panels. The exact nature of Djokovic’s exemption is unclear.

“Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” the TA said in a statement. “One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health. They assessed all applications to see if they met the Australian Technical Advisory Group of Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.”

Djokovic, who has won three Australian Open titles in a row, will join rival Rafael Nadal in the AO main draw with history on the line. Both men are playing for a men’s record 21st Grand Slam championship in Melbourne while Big 3 rival Roger Federer continues rehab from a fourth knee surgery at home in Switzerland.

The 34-year-old Djokovic, who has declined to disclose if he’s vaccinated, has publicly opposed tournaments mandating player vaccination. Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, both tested positive for Coronavirus, along with several other players, during the Adria Tour in the summer of 2020. The Djokovic-led Adria Tour came under criticism for a lack of safety protocol amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic has denied claims he’s anti-vax and says his vaccination status is a personal health matter he doesn’t discuss publicly though certainly he will be asked about his status and medical exemption when he meets the media in Melbourne later this month.