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Exemption for Djokovic, but not for Indian player

17-year-old Aman Dahiya will now be unable to play in the Australian Open

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As tennis star Novak Djokovic trends on social media today following his vaccination exemption for the upcoming Australian Open, there’s been a bit of talk in India about one of its own players who also sought exemption.

It was turned down.

Tennis player Aman Dahiya is not opposed to vaccination, as many suspect Djokovic may be.

He is only 17, and the vaccination program in India to those under 18 has only just rolled out. It makes him not yet fully vaccinated.

Dahiya was headed down under to participate in the Junior Grand Slam and J1 Traralgon Junior International.

Dahiya’s coach Jignesh Rawal revealed that an Australian Open communication to him said, “Under current Australian guidelines, the applicant would be considered eligible for vaccination and therefore does not qualify for exemption.”

“You will not be allowed to play the Australian Open junior championships or J1 Traralgon events if you are not fully vaccinated,’’ Francis Soyer from Tennis Australia wrote to Dahiya.

Djokovic’s exemption – amid his constant reluctance to reveal his vaccination status – comes as a surprise, especially after the authorities had declared in November that all in attendance at the event must be vaccinated or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.

An Australian Open media release stated, “Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.”

ATAGI’s guidelines on temporary exemptions have been read, re-read and reprinted multiple times today to ascertain what grounds there could be for Djokovic to receive an exemption.

 

For those watching, the echoes of last year come rebounding – when borders banged shut to Indian-origin Australians as COVID raged in India, even as they remained wide open to travellers from the UK and US despite their own raging COVID curves, not to mention thousands of dollars in fines and imprisonment.

Are there different rules for elite players?

Jignesh Rawal has revealed that Aman Dahiya is now looking forward to competing in the French Open in May.

By then, he will be fully vaccinated.

An Ahmedabad lad, Aman is currently ranked 78th in the International Tennis Federation Junior rankings, his highest ranking so far. His win-loss record shows a 79% win rate.

The Australian Open is on at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, 17-30 January 2022.

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