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A Melbourne doctor has slammed the decision to grant Novak Djokovic a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open, calling the world No.1 a “spoilt brat”.
Dr Sara Marzouk posted a lengthy rant about the controversial move to Facebook on Wednesday morning as the Victorian city prepares for the tennis champion’s arrival.
She said she and her colleagues have spent months adhering to the strict rules surrounding vaccination exemptions and “now an entitled tennis player gets to walk all over the process”.
“I, and many of my colleagues, have sat through uncomfortable consultations where antivaxxers were prompted to attend their GP to get vaccine exemptions by threatening suicide for ‘extreme anxiety’,” she wrote.
“I, and many of my colleagues, have had consults where patients have cried over the prospect of losing their jobs, if they didn’t get vaccinated by a certain time.
“I, and many of my colleagues, have followed guidelines that stipulate that vaccine exemptions can only be given if a person has a very limited number of contraindications.
“It’s our adherence to the strict rules that resulted in only 156 permanent exemptions and some 1000 temporary exemptions being given AUSTRALIA wide in the 7 months of the vaccine rollout to October 17th.”
Djokovic has repeatedly refused to disclose his vaccination status after the Victorian government mandated only fully vaccinated players, fans and staff would be allowed to attend the Australian Open.
Officials said a very small percentage of unvaccinated players would be granted an exemption to compete as long as they had valid medical grounds.
Dr Marzouk said people have questioned whether Djokovic fell ill with Covid-19 again after his previous infection last year, or if he has a “real medical contraindication we don’t know about”.
“The list of legitimate medical contraindications is so tiny, and even if he had a contraindication to one, he wouldn’t have a contraindication to all the available options,” she said.
“What he does have is a case of entitlement and affluenza.”
Dr Marzouk said she has consoled Aussies whose partners have been stuck overseas for more than a year because of the country’s strict border restrictions.
“I’ve lent my shoulder to a woman who couldn’t travel interstate to attend the birth of her first grandchild because we were a hotspot,” she continued.
“I’ve seen patients whose ‘elective’ surgery has been delayed because of the rampant case numbers.
“And yet this spoilt brat, a vocal antivaxxer, has given all of us the middle finger and emboldened the antivax brigade by getting exactly what he wants without consequence.
“And he doesn’t even need to quarantine with this joke of an ‘exemption’.”
When asked about Djokovic's exemption on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said responsibility laid with the Victorian government.
“Well, that is a matter for the Victorian government. They have provided him with an exemption to come to Australia, and so we then act in accordance with that decision,” he said.
Tennis boss urges Djokovic to reveal exemption reason
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has urged Djokovic to reveal the reasons for his medical exemption from vaccination amid public outrage over the decision.
He will avoid 14 days in quarantine upon arrival with visitors to Australia who have medical exemptions treated the same as vaccinated arrivals, so will be ready to play on day one on January 17.
Djokovic also won't face any extra testing procedures during the tournament.
Tiley insists the Serbian superstar hadn't received any special treatment and says Djokovic was anonymously assessed by two separate independent panels of medical experts.
He says Djokovic met the strict guidelines set by the federal government advisory group ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation).
"If I want to come as an international visitor and I'm not vaccinated, and I meet those guidelines, any medical practitioner can can grant me an exemption and add my name to the immunisation register," Tiley said on Wednesday.
"And then I'm able to come in as an unvaccinated individual, so it's not just Novak.
"He went through that process and it's completely legitimate application and process."
Tiley said he wasn't privy to the medical condition that allowed Djokovic to receive the exemption.
A positive Covid-19 test within the past six months is one possibility.
Djokovic isn't required to make his exemption reason public, however, Tiley said it would be "helpful" if the 34-year-old Djokovic did.
Djokovic took to social media on Tuesday night to announce he would be back at Melbourne Park to defend his crown, as he chases a record-setting 21st grand slam title.
"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," he posted on Instagram.
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