The hosts of Sunrise have slammed the Victorian government's decision to allow Novak Djokovic a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open after he has repeatedly refused to disclose whether or not he's vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Serbian tennis star announced he was heading to Australia on Instagram to defend his title at the grand slam in Melbourne this month, writing: "Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet."
He continued, "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!!"
The Victorian government mandated that only fully vaccinated players, fans and staff, as well as those granted exemptions will be allowed to enter Melbourne Park.
The Sunrise hosts shared some viewer feedback about the decision as well as their own thoughts.
Sports presenter Mark Beretta said, "Can I just give you one from Lisa, she probably sums it up for all Australians."
He then shared her comment, "How disappointing! Obviously, the rules don’t apply for some, especially if they have money, we certainly won’t be watching any of your matches."
"Another says ‘that’s unfair and not the sportsman we’ve all got to know,'" he added.
Edwina Bartholomew was also unimpressed, sharing the perspective of Victorians and other Australians who were unable to visit dying loved ones throughout the pandemic as they couldn't get exemptions.
"I think for so many people, particularly in Victoria, its the culmination of all of the frustration that we’ve been feeling not just for two years, but particularly over the last couple of weeks with all the delays in testing and not being able to see family," she said.
"And people who have not been able to get medical exemptions for their own families to see people who are dying!"
Mark added, "The premier has made the message so clear - ‘get vaccinated to get to events and to have a life outside again’ - and here, one person for whatever reason, they’re a tennis star, is cleared to go."
The hosts added that they were surprised Novak even mentioned that he'd received an exemption as it would anger Aussies more than if he had simply said he was coming into the country.
Tennis Australia has also confirmed Novak will be playing at the Australian Open, saying his medical exemption "was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts".
It is also believed that a number of other players have been granted exemptions with the panels not knowing who they are when assessing their application.
Social media users have also been left thoroughly unimpressed by the decision with one user writing, "Novak Djokovic awarded medical exemption to come to Australia unvaccinated after he contracted a serious case of being rich."
They sarcastically added, "Novak Djokovic too medically unwell to take a vaccine, but still well enough to compete at a grand slam."
"After everything Victorians have been through, Novak Djokovic getting a vaccine exemption is nothing short of a kick in the guts. All those lockdowns, all that suffering. Seriously?" another added.
"Novak Djokovic is about to find out what it’s like to be despised by all of Australia. We’re all nice and laid back until we’re not. #GetVaccinated," someone else wrote.
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