Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic got a ‘medical exemption’ to travel to Australia


For weeks now, the Australian media and sports media have been working themselves into a lather about Novak Djokovic. Novak has made many anti-vaxx statements in recent years, although in the last half of 2021, he just began avoiding vaccine questions altogether. Months ago, Tennis Australia announced that they would have a vaccine mandate for the Australian Open, which starts in a week and a half. Djokovic’s best event is AO, he’s won the singles title there nine times, and he’s the defending champion. So there was a lot of rumor-mongering about what would happen – would Djokovic get vaccinated for Oz? Was he already secretly vaccinated and he just didn’t want to say that? Would Djoker get a medical exemption to come to Oz? Or would he just pull out of the major, like he pulled out of the ATP Cup, the pre-AO event? There were all kinds of rumors flying around, but finally, a confirmation from the tournament: Djokovic is flying to Australia, and he received a medical exemption.

Novak Djokovic ended speculation over his Australian Open title defence by announcing on Tuesday that he would compete at the season’s opening Grand Slam event after receiving a medical exemption from getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The world No. 1, who had declined to reveal his vaccination status, said previously that he was unsure whether he would compete at the Jan. 17-30 tournament in Melbourne due to concerns over Australia’s quarantine rules.

Organisers of the Australian Open had stipulated that all participants must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts. The organisers issued a statement later on Tuesday to confirm Djokovic will be allowed to compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia.

“Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” the statement said. “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 on Immunisation guidelines.”

Tennis Australia said last month the panel would consist of doctors from the fields of immunology, infectious disease and general practice and that the move was agreed in conjunction with the Victoria Department of Health. Applicants that pass an initial stage will be subject to a second review conducted by a government-appointed panel before the application is submitted to the Australian Immunisation Register.

Djokovic’s father Srdjan had told a Serbian television channel that his son would probably pull out of the major, saying Tennis Australia’s stance on mandatory jabs was tantamount to “blackmail.”

[From ESPN]

Yeah, I’m sorry but this is BS. Strings were pulled, threats were issued, and money was likely exchanged. While Novak isn’t the biggest name in tennis, Tennis Australia clearly felt that they needed to do whatever they could to get him there. Novak, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer ARE the franchise for men’s tennis, and Roger’s still out with a bad knee. They felt they “needed” Novak there (Rafa is already there, because he’s fully vaccinated and boosted).

Combine all of this with the fact that in the past month, Australia’s Covid numbers have gone through the roof. I wonder if Novak will be tested regularly as part of his “exemption”? Because the chances are pretty good that his unvaxxed ass will get the highly contagious Omicron variant while he’s in Melbourne. Wouldn’t that be interesting.

Novak Djokovic wins the Australian Open 2020 in Melbourne

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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60 Responses to “Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic got a ‘medical exemption’ to travel to Australia”

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  1. Chic says:

    Didn’t he organize a tournament last year and a few other players spread COVID around? SMH

    • SomeChick says:

      yes, they went out clubbing & there were photos.

      he issued some weak-azz apology about how he didn’t think there was covid in the country yet or something equally absurd.

      dude is the worst!

  2. Léna says:

    I hope he’s booed and kicked out pretty quickly. I want to punch this guy so bad

    • whatWHAT? says:

      booed and knocked out of the tournament in the first match he plays.

      And I’m next in the punching line.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      and PS – if your body/health is too frail to take a vaccine, they SURELY it’s too frail to travel and put yourself at risk of exposure to this potentially deadly virus.

      he’s a class-A jerk, but the people who gave him the exemption suck, too.

    • SKF says:

      I really hope the crowd boos him too.

      Something is really off about this exemption. They are claiming that each exemption was anonymous (ie: the panels didn’t know who the applicant was, they just got their exemption request health details); but either that is a lie and his was flagged and pushed through somehow OR he had his request written up by doctors he bought who said whatever they needed to in order to get him across the line. You know, like Michael Jackson’s doctor – the type who are for sale to the wealthy and their wants and desires.

      I find it very difficult to believe that this anti-vaxxer, whose whole family are anti-vaxxers, who is fit and healthy, somehow also has some secret condition that means he cannot get vaccinated. I saw people online jabbering on about how he’s a coeliac and vaccinations are dangerous for coeliacs; but I know several coeliacs who are all vaxxed and I looked up multiple coeliac/celiac organisations and they all advised getting vaxxed and none of them mentioned adverse side effects.

      What really infuriates me, is that one of the Russian women’s players was rejected because she’s vaccinated with a Russian vaccine that the Australian government doesn’t accept as good enough. At least she tried! With what was available to her. This arse got an exemption and vaccinated people were rejected!! Utter crap.

  3. Eulalia says:

    Despite what our government says, he’s NOT welcome here. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets boo’d in court this year. In fact, I might boo him myself.

    • RMP says:

      The anti-vaxxers would love to turn up to counter those boos but they won’t be allowed in. 👍

  4. WTF says:

    What an asshat

  5. Oh_Hey says:

    I read something last night about the spread of omicron and the doctor they quoted said it was a matter of when not if it hits you, especially if your not vaxxed. Who’s taking bets on him going and then getting too sick to play? That’s what I’m my bingo card.

  6. Spaniard says:

    This is a shame that he got a medical exemption, like WTF australian politicians? Everywhere people are asked to do sacrifices (Lots of jobs and individual freedoms lost)in order to protect us altogether and this f*cker gets a pass? Please australians make him feel unwelcomed!

    • Eulalia says:

      Oh that’s the plan, for sure. We’re going to make sure his unvaccinated arse is never going to want to come back again.

  7. atorontogal says:

    This guy! I’m so tired of the rich being enabled in everything they want while we (peasants) suffer. I’ve been alive for 60 years and have never seen the rich get this rich, nor the poor become this poor. I’m sick of “do as I say not what I do!” There’s way more of us than them, I say RISE UP RISE UP!

  8. jferber says:

    I think some male athletes feel invincible and that they are “too strong and healthy” to get COVID. It’s like a prolonging of the teen years in which kids feel nothing bad can happen to them. I’m surprised he got a medical exemption to get into another country unvaccinated. So stupid.

  9. novaroux says:

    This right here is why Novak will never be the GOAT, whatever the statistics.

    Also, his father is insufferable.

    • rawiya says:

      I just made a similar comment (before seeing yours.) He can win twice as many Slams as Roger and Rafa and they’ll always be thought of in higher esteem than him.

      His entire family is insufferable.

      • Mmc says:

        The Rafa and Roger who kept their mouth shut about Peng Shuai for far too long? The Rafa and Roger who refuse to advocate for lower ranked players? Those two?

        He messed up with Covid.
        But not only has he surpassed them with his achievements on the court he has proven to be far less self centered outiside of it.
        He is the GOAT already and people wouldn’t even debate it were he not an Eastern European in an elitist sport.

      • rawiya says:

        Mmc, miss me with the Eastern European nonsense. No one cares where he’s from. The problem is that Novak has had a chip on his shoulder for over a decade. He’s not a nice person. He comes across as an ego-centric jerk. He’s not the GOAT to the majority of the public, because his attitude sucks!

      • Mmc says:

        The majority of tennis fans care. Especially because he does not fit the western idea of a polished gentleman.
        https://thoughtleader.co.za/novak-djokovic-and-the-hierarchy-of-whiteness/ this is a good article about it for people interested.

        But deciding who’s the GOAT has nothing to do with attitude anyway, but with facts. And I would say someone willing to put his reputation and money on the line for lower ranked players is a nicer person than someone who wanted to increase the prize money for themselves.

      • A. Key says:

        Agreed, and I am from Southeastern Europe. I can’t stand the sight of him. No one’s denying he’s good at tennis, it’s just that he’s so obviously a shitty human being. It’s a shame talent doesn’t go hand in hand with decency, politeness, respect and good behaviour. But I guess those are learned at home and from the people that surround you, so that says it all about where he comes from.

    • Sof says:

      Lol, his father! I always wondered what would’ve happened with Nole’s attitude and public persona if his family behaved differently. Do they know they are universally disliked? Except for Jelena, I never heard anything bad about her.

      • Novaroux says:

        I think they feed off it, tbh. Novak likes to still think of himself as the underdog who needs to prove to the Big Bad West that he’s better than them. Except that at this point, it’s just irritating. He’s shooting himself in the foot if he believes he can change the world’s perception with spite.

  10. Legalese says:

    Absolutely ridiculous, especially when you consider all the Australian government has done to stop covid, at greater personal sacrifice to their citizens. My friend, an Australian citizen living in the US (in her early 20s), was unable to get home and see her family for 18 months because the Australian government’s policy of severely limiting entry into the country resulted in airfares of more than $20,000, sometimes up to $50,000, for a single roundtrip flight from the US. They shut their own CITIZENS out and made it impossible for them to get home, yet made exceptions for both the entertainment industry and the Australian Open last year. This is yet another slap in the face, with yet another exception being made – for someone who is extremely selfish and couldn’t care less about public health – while Australia’s own citizens continue to comply with extremely strict measures.

    • AmelieOriginal says:

      I know an Australian woman who managed to get back to Australia due to work visa issues before Australia opened its borders back up, just in time for omicron to hit (I was cat sitting for her). She had to go back to Australia due to an expired work visa that she could only renew if she went back to Australia, she couldn’t do it from the US. She had had a grace period due to covid but her company told her she couldn’t work for them any longer past a certain date so she managed to get a special exemption to fly back and deal with it. Once it was approved, she managed to return. They still had the strict two week quarantine which she had to do upon entry. No idea what’s happening now.

      I have another American friend who has lived in Australia now for the past few years with her Australian partner, she was finally able to come visit her family for the holidays after two years of not being able to visit (as a US citizen I think she could have left Australia to enter the US but not sure they would have let her back in to Australia, I forget what the issue was). They are supposed to remain in the States until mid-January but I’m wondering how omicron will affect their travel plans.

    • Philly says:

      All those strict measures have pretty much gone out the window with the arrival of omicron. The new approach seems to be to let it rip, testing is a shambles, RATs are scarce as hen’s teeth and being sold for $100+ for a 4-pack and hospitals overwhelmed. Chances are high that Novak will get omicron during his visit if he isn’t vaxxed.

  11. rawiya says:

    What medical exemption does the #1 player in the world need? Let’s have this discussion, since this has to be new. What has he been battling these past few years ? Uuuugh. I hate him. HATE, y’all. This is why he’ll never be considered great like Roger and Rafa. Who cares how many titles he wins, when he’s an all-around ***h*le!

  12. Elvie says:

    Fedal fan for life.

    I hope Novak crashes and burns out of the AO and Medvedev wins his second slam title.

  13. twoz says:

    Judging by comments on The Age and social media, he’ll be lucky if he isn’t run out of town.
    I hope the people who said they were cancelling their tickets actually do…

  14. Feebee says:

    I’m a Novak fan and am keen to see him break the tie but even for me this is wrong. He shouldn’t be there if he’s unvaccinated. But this is on the Australian Government. I can’t imagine anything he should be getting an exemption for and if I could I’d be all ‘fair enough’. But nah, I’m unimpressed by this. I’m disappointed that Tennis Australia clearly went to bat for him here when they shouldn’t have. It’s a slap in the face to the other players. It’s a lose-lose for Nole in terms of the public sentiment.

  15. sunny says:

    He is awful.

  16. Hellohello says:

    As someone with a legit medical exemption, this infuriates me. I’m living like an absolute hermit right now with real fear that I’m going to get COVID, not out doing whatever I want expecting others to protect me. It’s people like this who make it difficult for those of us with real medical issues to receive care and compassion. Vomit.

    I read something the other day that I thought was an apt comparison. If you were going to have sex with someone with a known STD, you wouldn’t just think, “My strong immune system will keep me safe.” You’d use a prophylactic or forgo an activity that might be too high risk!

  17. EviesMom says:

    If you have a medical exemption to vaccination, I’m 110% sure you should be taking every precaution to Not Travel during a pandemic.
    Novak is going to turn the tournament into a super spreader event AGAIN. This guy should be charged as a public menace.

  18. Emma says:

    Ahhhh it’s Novax Djocovid again!

  19. Sof says:

    Love how he gets a medical exemption while those vaccinated with Sputnik (Natalia Vikhlyantseva for instance) are not allowed to play as the vaccine is not approved in Australia. The rules should be the same for everyone.
    Would like to say I’m disappointed but no, the tennis world has been awful for a long while.

    EDIT to say: it seems that Juniors are struggling too because not all countries approved or started vaccination for minors. Why organize a tournament during a pandemic again? Last AO was a mess.

  20. Concern Fae says:

    We need to know the names of these “experts” and what the reason for the exemption is. This is enraging.

  21. Mimmy says:

    Are people blaming Novak for Rafa Nadal, Carlos Moyá and Marc López testing positive for COVID after Mubadala, or do I have to wait a few hours for that to happen?

    Because happen it will.


  22. Mina says:

    Why does he have to get the vaccine? It does not prevent transmitting it to others (including those at high risk) and he himself is at very low risk of being hospitalized. So even if he gets the “highly infectious omicron” as you say, this variant is more mild. What happened to common sense and risk assessment?

    • teecee says:

      What happened to “nobody is above the law?” Honestly Novak stans are delusional a-holes, just like him.

      I’m not saying I hope he gets sick and that it’s bad for him, but I won’t be sad if it does happen. #karmacomethru

      • Mathom says:

        Common sense would be everyone wearing a mask in public or getting vaccinated if they can so that the hospitals aren’t so full that they turn away people with non covid related emergencies. Common sense would be people doing both of these things so that this virus isn’t constantly circulating at such a high rate and mutating.

        It’s embarrassing and shameful that we’ve been asked to do so little, at such a negligible personal cost to help others and we can’t even do that.

        You don’t want to get vaccinated? Separate yourself like the Amish. No one’s complaining about their vaccination rates.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      He doesn’t have to get the vaccine. it would be the sensible, thoughtful community-minded thing to do. I won’t explain the science behind why they work on eradicating disease because I’m betting you don’t want to hear it and/or don’t believe it anyway. but the bottom line is that when you get the large majority vaccinated against a disease, it’s better and more protective for us as a society and can lead to the eradication or at least virtual eradication of that disease. this one will continue to spread and mutate, mostly among the unvaxxed. and those who cannot LEGITIMATELY vaccinate are basically screwed. eventually, the unvaxxed people will die off because one of the mutated strains will be one they can’t fight off. the rest of us will have to keep getting boosters until then.

      that being said, I’ll say again that he doesn’t have to get the vaccine, but he shouldn’t use some BS excuse to work his way around the rules either. that’s the problem here. he has the choice to not get vaccinated but there are consequences for that laid out by law that are supposed to apply to everyone.

      to add, no one really knows what their individual personal risk of hospitalization is. people you would have thought were low risk, like triathletes and college athletes, other “young and healthy” people, wound up hospitalized, some with long-term or permanent organ damage and some dead. this guy is a pro athlete and probably in very good shape but this virus doesn’t care. and if he’s not vaxxed, he’s not only at risk from Omicron but also from the original and Delta strains, which are, reportedly, much worse.

      • Mina says:

        Yes please tell me I don’t want to or don’t understand the science when I’m a nurse. The far left and far right are both so extreme and there really is no middle ground.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        my response to you was not “extreme” or political in any way. it was based on science and my interpretation of the law and how it should apply to everyone equally. if you find science or equal application of law to be politically “extreme”, not only do I think you’re in the wrong profession, but I think you also just let us know what *your* political leanings are.

        yes, both sides are so extreme in how they view this pandemic. one side wants to mitigate and/or end it with proven science, and one side wants to kill off as many people as possible and view the dead as collateral damage.

    • SKF says:

      An unvaccinated person is 20x more likely to spread COVID to vaccinated people than a vaccinated person is. Also, we have rules that everyone has had to abide by. It’s not okay that the rich and powerful get exemptions to them.

  23. Maryanna says:

    Could the exemption be based on him having recently had Covid?

    • A. Key says:

      That’s most likely the case, but you know that there are other people who’ve had covid recently and who probably won’t get medical exemptions for Australia like this because these are meant for very ill folks with actually underlying health issues. He’s a no. 1 tennis player he isn’t living with a crippling immunocompromising underlying disease or a bad heart problem, come on. He’d have never gotten to where he is if he was that sick all the time. But oh well, most people don’t have his financial pull so there you go.

    • AmelieOriginal says:

      We know he got covid last year after idiotically organizing a series of exhibition matches in Croatia, but that wasn’t the omicron variant. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got it again though. You would think if he got it TWICE, he would get vaccinated.

  24. Beach Dreams says:

    God this man is an asshole. I’ve never cared for the Big 3 for a variety of reasons but he’s easily the worst of them.

  25. Vaper says:

    I hate this. I was so angry when I read about it last night. What a slap in the face to Victorians (most locked down city in the world!!!) and all we’ve been through and are still going through. Furious.

  26. Myrna says:

    He will be booed and have no crowd support. As Vaper said, we have had the world’s longest lockdown in Melbourne. People are still tired, scared and sad, and have rushed to get vaxxed (despite delays caused by our national government). We won’t tolerate this gormless pillock doing his usual schtick where he attends to charm the crowds and flirt with the media. We are over it and over him. He should have stayed home

  27. WendyC says:

    My sister and I have been to the Aus Open for the last 20 years, whether it’s 40 degrees (C) or bucketing rain.

    This year, for the first time ever, we are skipping it. We saw this exemption coming a mile off and decided we couldn’t support it.

  28. Snappyfish says:

    I was alway an Andy Murray fan

  29. DeluxeDuckling says:

    What an idiot 🤦‍♀️ also, selfish.

  30. Barbie1 says:

    Can’t believe he was allowed into the tournament. He will be even more insufferable than before. Out of touch with reality a*hole.

  31. EviesMom says:

    @Mina you’re a nurse & you don’t understand why someone shouldn’t travel internationally while unvaccinated during a pandemic? I’m not a nurse – but I understand why … 🦸🏻‍♀️

  32. Parklife31 says:

    Anyone that agrees with this decision has not lived the past 2 years of rolling lockdowns here in Melbourne. We have spent over 9 months on lockdowns here, and when “out” have lived under harsh restrictions. This decision is a slap in the face to the whole community here who have had to follow endless rules and have done the right thing and gone out to get vaccinated in droves (93%). Djokovic is arrogant enough to think the rules don’t apply to him, and he has been rewarded with an exemption? You have got to be kidding me. He will be booed in every match he plays. People are absolutely incensed here about it. And rightly so.

  33. Seaflower says:

    As an Aussie, I can safely say we are all p*ssed off by this.

  34. shanaynay says:

    I question the motivation of the people who approved this medical exemption. I call BS on this, and believe that the authorities should do some heavy investigating into this. Some shady AF sh*T is going on here….