A 17-year-old Indian tennis player said on Wednesday that he felt “hurt” by being denied entry to the Australian Open for being unvaccinated against COVID-19, while world number one Novak Djokovic was given a medical exemption.
All participants in the Melbourne tournament, which starts on 17 January, must be jabbed or have a medical dispensation, which is only given after assessment by two panels of independent experts.
Among those exempted was Djokovic, who has repeatedly refused to confirm whether he has been vaccinated.
But Aman Dahiya was ruled out of the qualifying round for the junior Australian Open because he had not been beaten.
India made COVID-19 vaccinations available to people between the ages of 15 and 18 from January 3, and Dahiya, ranked 78th on the ITF Junior Rankings, is still waiting for his first shot.
In an email seen by AFP, the tournament’s medical exemption panel rejected Dahiya’s request, writing: “Under current Australian guidelines, the applicant would be considered eligible for vaccination and therefore not eligible for exemption.”
“I felt hurt after Djokovic was allowed to play and while I was denied entry for the same thing,” Dahiya said. “The law must be the same for everyone. It is double standards. “
Dahiya coach Jignesh Rawal said the player missed the opportunity of his life to play on the biggest stage due to a tough call.
“We thought they were very strict, but we saw that they allow Djokovic, who did not have one vaccine,” Rawal told AFP.
“In a simple email, they said ‘you can not come’, but Mr. Djokovic can you because you are famous. I respect Djokovic, but the law should remain the same for everyone.”
Rawal said Dahiya comes from a humble background in the northern state of Haryana, where his father earns about 10,000 rupees ($ 134) a month.
Meanwhile, there has been a severe setback in Australia over Djokovic’s entry to defend his title in Melbourne.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said the defending champion had not received “no special service”, but urged the Serb to reveal why he was given the exemption, to soothe public anger.
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