Djokovic’s beliefs and behavior have made headlines throughout the pandemic. In April 2020, he said he was opposed to vaccines and that he wouldn’t want to be required to receive a shot in order to travel. Just months later, he and his wife tested positive for COVID after he organized and played in exhibition matches that fluted social distancing recommendations. In October 2021, he said that questions about his vaccination status were “inappropriate.”
The tournament’s defending champion had surprised many Tuesday when he posted on social media that he had been granted an “exemption permission” to travel to Australia. But, as Melbourne’s Age newspaper first reported, it was not clear whether Djokovic had brought sufficient evidence to prove his exemption reason.
Under Australian law, foreigners traveling into the country must have a visa and be fully vaccinated. Tennis Australia and officials in Victoria, where Melbourne is located, made similar requirements for players who wanted to participate in the Open without first undertaking a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
But Australian immunization officials had outlined some temporary vaccine exemptions for its citizens, which include people who have had a PCR-confirmed case of COVID in the last six months. It is not clear if these apply to foreigners seeking to enter Australia, but tennis officials had pointed to these exemptions in their decision to allow Djokovic to participate.
That Djokovic was granted an exemption to play in Melbourne, which endured one of the longest lockdowns in the world as Australia sought to keep COVID