The decision to grant World No. 1 Novak Djokovic a medical exemption to enter the country and compete at the Australian Open has sparked a wild backlash amongst the wider Australian community.
On Tuesday night, Djokovic confirmed that he was heading to Australia after getting the green light from the government and an independent medical panel employed by Tennis Australia.
Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley, spoke on Wednesday morning about the process that resulted in Djokovic receiving an exemption to enter Australia.
The decision has caused uproar in the community, with many voicing their displeasure over the circumstances to which he was allowed to enter Australia and play in the Australian Open.
The angst is particularly felt in Melbourne after a rough two years that saw the city, and the state of Victoria, thrown in and out of lockdown as many were affected heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After many have been pushed towards vaccination to lead a normal life, the idea that someone who has been so openly opposed to vaccination can walk into the city and likely pick up a check for $2.75 million has caused an uproar.
In early December, Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino hosed down speculation that Djokovic would appear in Melbourne for the Open.
“My view on this is really clear and really simple,” Merlino said in a December press conference.
“My view and, I think, the view of all Victorians, the expectation of all Victorians is that everyone who attends the Open - players, spectators, staff, officials - (is) fully vaccinated.
“Medical exemptions are just that - it’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players.”
Merlino should be perched in his office wiping the egg off his face after the decision was made to allow the unvaccinated Djokovic to participate in the Australian Open.
After being promised by government officials that all players would need to be vaccinated before entering the country to compete in the tournament, when Djokovic broke the news that he, in fact, was entering with an “exemption permission”, the public acted out in outrage, some taking to Twitter to voice their disapproval.
After the news broke, some of Djokovic's fellow players even voiced their opinion on the situation.
Australia's James Duckworth decided to take the safe 'politically correct' approach, but his fellow ATP Cup teammate Alex de Minaur wasn't buying it.
Britain's Jamie Murray believes "If it was me that wasn't vaccinated I wouldn't be getting an exemption."
American player Mitchell Krueger was not surprised that Djokovic was granted an exemption.