'Shame!! shame, shame': Australia reacts to Novak Djokovic's Australian Open vaccine exemption
Tennis player Novak Djokovic was exempt from vaccination rules for the Australian Open, prompting an angry response from Australians.
Participants in the tournament, which starts on January 17, must either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a medical exemption, which is granted only after a medical evaluation by two independent expert panels.
According to the Organisers, the defending champion was not given special treatment. Craig Tiley, head of the Australian Open, says Novak Djokovic received "no special" favours in getting a Covid vaccine exemption to play.
The move sparked a furious backlash, despite the organiser's statements, Australians - some of whom are still unable to travel interstate or internationally - have criticised officials, politicians, and Djokovic himself.
Stephen Parnis, a former vice-president of the Australian Medical Association, said it sent an appalling message to those fighting COVID-19's spread.
Djokovic, the nine-time Australian Open champion, announced late Tuesday he was on his way to Melbourne with "exemption permission", ending the lengthy saga over whether he would defend his title. On Twitter netizens reacted strongly to the exemption: