Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

Former Australian Open CEO labels Novak Djokovic medical exemption rumours ‘unfair’ and ‘concocted’

Paul McNamee has claimed the rumours that Novak Djokovic has applied for a Covid-19 vaccination medical exemption for the Australian Open have “absolutely no substance.”

20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic’s Australian Open participation remains doubtful due to his refusal to publicly declare his Covid-19 vaccination status.

Tournament director Craig Tiley announced that if players wish to compete at the first Grand Slam of the season then they must be double-vaccinated.

The World number one was named on both Serbia’s ATP Cup team and the Australian Open entry list as he looks to defend his ‘Happy Slam’ crown and claim a record-extending tenth Australian Open.

As such, rumours arose that Djokovic had applied for a medical exemption but these rumours were categorically denied by Tennis Australia. Tiley also revealed that “everyone goes on the entry list, it’s not a commitment list.”

Former Australian Open CEO McNamee told Australian Radio programme Sportsday that he feels the rumours are “fantasy” and that the whole story is “unfair” to Djokovic.

The four-time doubles Slam winner said “it is concocted. I call it a fantasy. There is absolutely no substance to that story you refer to in the Herald Sun, which was on the front page.

“That he has applied for a medical exemption, I mean, that’s a complete fantasy.

“If he had, we wouldn’t know about it any way. Even the journalists can’t confirm it. I ran into Mark McGowan (Premier of Western Australia) yesterday.

“It’s the possibility that someone could apply and he could be one of them. But, there’s absolutely no substance to Novak Djokovic applying for one. Why would he apply for one? I mean, he’s the healthiest guy in the world,” McNamee exclaimed.

“He’s alluding [using] his right to privacy but absolutely, in my opinion, he is not applying for an exemption. That’s a complete fantasy. That whole story unfair to him.

“Which Mark McGowan in fact wrote about yesterday that he [Djokovic] just seems to be the victim of all the vitriol.

“I fully understand and agree with our government’s decision but I think people should cut him a little bit of slack and that’s why I have spoken out.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.