There has long been conjecture about world No1 Djokovic’s participation in the event after not revealing his vaccination status.
Despite his presence at the top of the main draw for the Australian Open – where he is bidding for a record 21st Grand Slam – there was still speculation that Djokovic had been seeking a medical exemption to play.
Australian officials had made it clear there was a no vaccine, no play policy for those competing in Melbourne at the opening Grand Slam of the year.
But speaking on Wednesday, Victoria deputy premier James Merlino said that only a very limited number of medical exemptions would be granted.
“My view on this is really clear and really simple,” he said. “Everyone’s looking forward to the Australian Open and everyone who will attend – spectators, players, officials, staff – everyone is expected to be fully vaccinated. It is a medical exemption in exceptional circumstances if you have an acute medical condition.”
Earlier, Tennis Australia had put out a statement saying that “everyone entering Australia for the summer of tennis will need to meet the strict requirements by health authorities across the country”.
The statement added: “These include certified proof of vaccination, or a valid medical exemption approved by Australian medical officials. What has been made clear by health officials is that international arrivals who don’t meet these requirements will need to quarantine for 14 days.”
The biggest absentee at present is Williams, who missed the last Grand Slam, the US Open, with injury. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley had said just a few weeks ago that he had spoken to the 23-time Grand Slam champion and that she was training and intending to play.
But in a statement on Wednesday, Williams said: “Following the advice of my medical team, I have decided to withdraw from this year’s Australian Open. I am not where I need to be physically to compete. Melbourne is one of the my favourite cities to visit and I look forward to playing at the Australian Open every year. I will miss seeing the fans but am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”