Watch CBS News

Novak Djokovic will play in Australian Open after receiving medical exemption from vaccine mandate

Novak Djokovic announced he will return to the Australian Open to defend his title after receiving a medical exemption from the tournament's vaccine mandate.  

In a post wishing his social media followers a happy new year, the top ranked tennis men's player in the world revealed he was granted an exemption to play. 

"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 said, with a photo of him next to luggage. 

Tournament organizers confirmed Djokovic in a statement was given a "medical exemption" after a review that included two separate independent panels of experts. The experts are made up of doctors from immunology, infection disease and general practice. 

Australian Open director Craig Tiley said players, fans and staff at the tournament must be fully vaccinated unless there's a reason why an exemption should be granted.

"Fair and independent protocols were established for assessing medical exemption applications that will enable us to ensure Australian Open is safe and enjoyable," Tiley said in a statement. "Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration." 

The tournament runs from January 17 to 30. 

The 34-year-old Serbian has not said whether he is vaccinated, but last year, he expressed his desire to have "freedom of choice" when it relates to getting a COVID-19 shot. 

Djokovic has nine Australian Open titles and won the last three. With another victory in Australia, he can break a three-way tie with tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and win a record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.