Novak Djokovic's participation at the Australian Open is reportedly back in doubt due to an issue with his visa.

World number one Djokovic flew into Melbourne on Wednesday, a day after revealing he had been cleared to take part in the tournament after receiving a medical exemption.

The Serbian has not directly addressed whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but players who compete at Melbourne Park either require proof they have been jabbed or an exemption.

He has spoken openly and critically about vaccine mandates, insisting there should be freedom of choice in all walks of life.

Many Australians criticised the decision to welcome Djokovic into the country, but the 34-year-old appears to have hit another stumbling block in his battle to defend the title he has won a record nine times.

 

Reports from Australia suggested that the Victorian government had rejected an application from Border Force regarding Djokovic's visa as a member of his support team made an error in requesting a sub-class of visa.

And Jaala Pulford, the acting sports minister of the state of Victoria, later declared on social media that Djokovic's application will not be supported.

"The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic's visa application to enter Australia," she posted on Twitter.

"We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.

"We've always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors."

The latest twist in the Djokovic saga comes after Australian prime minister Scott Morrison stated that Djokovic "will be on the next plane home" if he fails to prove he merits medical exemption to play in the tournament.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley insisted on Tuesday that the 20-time major champion had not been given a "special favour" to play in the tournament, which is scheduled to run from January 17 until January 30.

Alphonso Davies has become the latest Bayern Munich player to test positive for coronavirus.

Bayern revealed on Wednesday that Canada left-back Davies had contracted COVID-19

It comes a day after Leroy Sane and Dayot Upamecano tested positive as the Bundesliga leaders prepare to face Borussia Monchengladbach in their first game after the winter break on Friday.

Lucas Hernandez and Tanguy Nianzou also returned positive tests this week.

Manuel Neuer, Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso and Omar Richards were also unable to report for training after they tested positive. 

Bayern's assistant coach Dino Toppmoller is another absent due to coronavirus.

The Bavarian giants won seven consecutive games prior to the break and hold a nine-point lead over Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga.

Novak Djokovic should clear up any doubts over the reasons for his medical exemption to play at the Australian Open, says Toni Nadal.

Tournament organisers have faced a backlash after it was announced this week that men's world number one Djokovic has been granted a medical exemption to play in the first grand slam of the year.

Protocols in Australia require proof that competitors and staff have been jabbed or have a medical exemption to compete at Melbourne Park. Djokovic has thus far refused to state whether he has been vaccinated.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that Djokovic would be on the "next plane home" if he fails to prove he is medically exempt, though tournament organiser Craig Tiley insisted the 20-time major champion had not been given a "special favour" to play.

Nadal, the uncle of Djokovic's long-term rival and also 20-time major victor Rafael Nadal, has now weighed in, expressing surprise the Serbian did not pull out of the tournament and urging him to clarify his situation.

In his column for El Pais, Nadal wrote: "I must admit that, until Tuesday's announcement, I thought that the Serbian player would give up participating in the tournament or that he would get the vaccine.

"The way I understand it, if you have requested and received an exemption then it's because you must not have been administered any of the authorised [vaccines].

"There are almost six million people who have lost their lives due to this damn virus and many other millions who have received the vaccine.

"I want to think that Novak is no stranger to all this and that he will clear up the doubts as a sign of human sensitivity and understanding."

The Australian Open begins on January 17.

Novak Djokovic will be on the "next plane home" if he fails to prove he merits a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open.

Tournament organisers have faced a backlash after it was announced this week that Djokovic has been granted a medical exemption to play in the first grand slam of the year.

The Serbian has refused to state whether he has been vaccinated, but protocols in Australia require proof that competitors and staff have been jabbed or have a medical exemption to compete at Melbourne Park.

Tournament director Craig Tiley insisted that the 20-time major champion had not been given a "special favour" to play in the tournament.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday stated that Djokovic will not defend his title if he fails to show that he is exempt.

He told reporters: "We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that.

"If that evidence is insufficient, then he won't be treated any different to anyone else and he'll be on the next plane home. There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever."

Tiley told The Today Show on Tuesday: "There's been no special favour. There's been no special opportunity granted to Novak.

"As an organisation and as a sport, we've done what everyone else does and would do if they wanted to come to Australia and under certain conditions.

"And we have abided by those conditions and I know Australia's had the most comprehensive response to COVID of any nation in the world. And our governments have done everything they humanly possibly can to keep us safe.

"It's ultimately the decision of the medical experts and we follow that accordingly. In this case, Novak made that application.

"And like others, there's been 26 athletes and their primary support staff that have made applications and a handful of those have been granted by the panel.

"The conditions in which any tennis player comes in, no matter who they are, are conditions that have been put on tennis and put on anyone coming into Australia by the Australian government."

The Australian Open begins on January 17.

Novak Djokovic has not been granted any "special favour" for a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open, tournament director Craig Tiley insisted.

Djokovic announced on Tuesday that he was on his way to Melbourne for the first grand slam of 2022, a revelation that was met with a host of criticism.

The world number one has not openly addressed whether he has been vaccinated for COVID-19, but protocols in Australia require proof that competitors have been jabbed or have a medical exemption to feature at Melbourne Park.

The Serbian has been vocal in his opposition for vaccine mandates, calling for freedom across the world, and is now expected to be welcomed with a frosty reception by those in the country battling a surge in cases of the Omicron variant.

Tiley spoke on the matter, coinciding with confirmation from the Australian Open that the 34-year-old was set to compete, as he referenced the "fair and independent protocols" in granting exemptions.

The tournament director has since reiterated his defence over the decision to allow Djokovic to defend his title, and search for a record 21st singles grand slam triumph, as he insisted there had been no preferential treatment.

Tiley said on Australia's The Today Show: "There's been no special favour. There's been no special opportunity granted to Novak.

"As an organisation and as a sport, we've done what everyone else does and would do if they wanted to come to Australia and under certain conditions.

"And we have abided by those conditions and I know Australia's had the most comprehensive response to COVID of any nation in the world. And our governments have done everything they humanly possibly can to keep us safe.

"It's ultimately the decision of the medical experts and we follow that accordingly. In this case, Novak made that application.

"And like others, there's been 26 athletes and their primary support staff that have made applications and a handful of those have been granted by the panel.

"The conditions in which any tennis player comes in, no matter who they are, are conditions that have been put on tennis and put on anyone coming into Australia by the Australian government."

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also sit with Djokovic on 20 major crowns, but the Swiss star is already ruled out of the tournament, which starts on January 17, through injury.

Nadal could yet compete after posting pictures showing he was in Melbourne as he continues to recover from a positive COVID-19 test in recent weeks.

Napoli head coach Luciano Spalletti will not be present on the touchline against Juventus after testing positive for COVID-19.

Spalletti's side have been ravaged by coronavirus issues over the mid-season break, leaving them somewhat short-handed for the trip to Turin on Thursday.

To make matters worse for the Naples outfit, their boss Spalletti returned a positive result for the virus on Tuesday that will keep him away from the Allianz Stadium as he heads into self-isolation.

On the same day, Napoli announced Mario Rui and fellow full-back Kevin Malcuit were isolating, while Andrea Petagna came into close contact with a positive case but was later given the all-clear.

That trio joins a host of stars within the Napoli ranks who will be absent for the clash with Massimiliano Allegri's side due to COVID-19 issues.

Hirving Lozano, who has featured in all of Napoli's 25 games in all competitions this term, was confirmed as unavailable last Tuesday after contracting the virus while back in Mexico.

Talisman Victor Osimhen, Fabian Ruiz and Eljif Elmas, all of whom are regular starters for the Serie A outfit, are also among the notable absentees ahead of the visit to the Bianconeri.

Reports in Italy suggest due to the ongoing situation at the club and across the country, the game could still yet be called off if local health authorities order Napoli to quarantine.

That would ban Spalletti's team from travelling to Juve and cancel the meeting between the two sides who sit third and fifth in Serie A respectively.

Jamie Murray has questioned why Novak Djokovic was granted special dispensation to compete at the Australian Open.

Seven-times grand slam doubles champion Murray was asked about the decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption for the year's first grand slam tournament at Melbourne Park.

Players have been obliged to either prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or apply for an exemption, which tournament organisers said involved a "rigorous" process to prove eligibility.

World number one Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open men's singles champion, yet it was unclear until Tuesday whether he would be allowed to play the event this year.

There has been early backlash to the decision to clear him, with Melbourne having been hit by multiple lockdowns during the pandemic and many believing only vaccinated players should be playing.

Murray, brother of Djokovic's long-time friend and rival Andy Murray, spoke after the Serbian was permitted to travel into Australia and said he doubted he would get the same treatment.

Asked about the situation in an ATP Cup news conference, Jamie Murray said: "I don't know what to say about that really. I think if it was me that wasn't vaccinated, I wouldn't be getting an exemption.

"But well done to him for getting cleared to come to Australia and compete."

 

Djokovic may wish to elaborate further on the factors behind him being given the green light to travel into the state of Victoria, and will doubtless face media questions about the situation once he arrives.

However, the 20-time grand slam winner has been unwilling to disclose his vaccination status until now, which suggests there is little prospect of him offering further medical insight at this stage.

Asked if he felt it was not a fair decision to exempt Djokovic, Jamie Murray added: "Whatever you want to say, that's the situation."

Murray, 35, was interrupted at that point by Great Britain captain Liam Broady, who said: "At the end of the day, you have to trust he has a valid reason for the medical exemption, that's all you can say about it really, isn't it."

However, Broady had no doubt Djokovic would play the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, and claimed it was a foregone conclusion.

In an Instagram story, Broady posted a screenshot of Djokovic's announcement, adding the remark: "The second AO announced there would be exemptions 8 weeks ago we all knew."

Novak Djokovic went through "rigorous" checks before being handed a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open, tournament chiefs insisted.

A wave of criticism followed Djokovic's announcement that he was on his way to Melbourne for the season's first grand slam tournament.

The Serbian has not directly addressed whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but players who compete at Melbourne Park either require proof they have been jabbed or an exemption.

He has spoken openly and critically about vaccine mandates, insisting there should be freedom of choice in all walks of life.

Many Australians on social media spoke out against the decision to welcome Djokovic into the country, predicting he could face a frosty reception while the country battles surging cases of the Omicron variant.

Djokovic will be bidding to win a 10th Australian Open title and a record 21st singles grand slam, more than any man in history.

The 34-year-old had his bags packed and was awaiting a flight at an airport when he broke the news of his trip to Australia on Tuesday.

Australian Open chiefs confirmed he had been granted permission to play, saying in a statement: "Novak Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia.

"Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted followting a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts. One of those was the independent medical exemption review panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health."

There has been no detail given of why Djokovic qualified for an exemption, and unless he is willing to disclose personal medical information it is set to remain that way.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said it remained the case that all involved with the tournament, from fans through to players, must be fully vaccinated or have an exemption permission allowing them to attend.

Tiley said: "Fair and independent protocols were established for assessing medical exemption applications that will enable us to ensure Australian Open 2022 is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

"Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration."

Explaining the process of securing exemptions, the Australian Open indicated in its statement that Djokovic would not have been treated as a special case.

It pointed out that a government-appointed panel assessed all cases that got past the first stage of checks, and that "the process included the redaction of personal information to ensure privacy for all applicants".

This should mean Djokovic was not identifiable to those making the crucial decisions about whether he should be allowed to take part.

"The multi-step independent review process was designed to ensure the safety of everyone at the Australian Open," the tournament statement added.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram on Tuesday: "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!!"

Djokovic's message was accompanied by a picture of him at an airport, with a tennis racquet bag atop his luggage on a trolley, indicating he was ready to board his flight to Australia.

He told his followers: "Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love and respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet."

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Sunday he expected defending champion Djokovic's status for the event to become clear within days. The grounds for Djokovic receiving an exemption have yet to be disclosed, and it is unclear whether they will ever be made public.

The 20-time grand slam winner withdrew from the ATP Cup in Sydney last week, begging questions of whether he would head to Australia at all, but now that appears to have been cleared up.

Djokovic has steadfastly refused to disclose whether he has been jabbed. His declaration that he has been given an exemption points to him not having been vaccinated.

The 34-year-old won in Melbourne last February and followed up by triumphing at the French Open and Wimbledon to join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 major titles.

Djokovic will be attempting to seize the outright lead by capturing a 21st slam, with the Australian Open running from January 17-30 at Melbourne Park.

He was on the same mission at the US Open but lost out to Daniil Medvedev in the New York final in September, as the Russian landed his first grand slam title at Flushing Meadows.

Medvedev was the man Djokovic beat in last year's Australian Open final, and is again expected to be a major challenger this time around.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram: "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!!"

Atletico Madrid confirmed Antoine Griezmann has been granted permission from health authorities to return to training.

Griezmann was among five to test positive for COVID-19 on December 30 along with coach Diego Simeone, Koke, Hector Herrera and Joao Felix.

All of them went into immediate isolation, with only Simeone being able to leave quarantine in time for Sunday's 2-0 LaLiga win over Rayo Vallecano.

But Griezmann has been cleared to return to the training pitch as well after his latest test came back negative, making his a case of "resolved infection".

An Atletico statement read: "Antoine Griezmann has received clearance from LaLiga to return to training.

"The French player represents a case of resolved infection that meets the conditions set by the Strategy for Early Detection, Surveillance and Control of COVID-19 of the Ministry of Health, dated December 19, 2021."

As such, Griezmann could potentially feature against Rayo Majadahonda in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Otherwise, he will hope to be involved away to Villarreal on Sunday.

Ferran Torres and Pedri have tested positive for COVID-19, Barcelona have confirmed.

The two Spain internationals are the latest in a spate of positive cases at the club.

Ahead of Sunday's 1-0 win at Real Mallorca, Barca were without 17 players and 10 of those were absent due to coronavirus.

But Monday's confirmation of Pedri and Torres also contracting the virus shows they are not out of the woods yet.

Barca's statement said the players were isolating at home and in "good health".

Nevertheless, new signing Torres was not available for selection yet anyway due to LaLiga salary cap rules preventing him from being registered until Barca offload players.

Similarly, Pedri was still on the road to recovery from a muscular injury that has plagued his season.

Both Pedri and Torres were among the 17 players considered unavailable for the win over Mallorca.

Barca are next in action on Wednesday when they face Linares in the Copa del Rey, before travelling to Granada in LaLiga on Saturday.

 

 

The Golden State Warriors are set to be bolstered by the return of Draymond Green after the All-Star forward cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Green is eligible to play in Monday's home game against the Miami Heat having been sidelined since Christmas Day's win over the Phoenix Suns.

The 31-year-old entered protocols on December 27, missing the Warriors' past two games, including a narrow loss to the Denver Nuggets which led to him criticising the NBA's decision to postpone the reverse fixture.

The Warriors were set to face Denver in the second of a two-game showdown on Friday, but a coronavirus outbreak within Nuggets camp forced the game to be called off.

Green is averaging 8.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game this season.

Ronaldo has tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss Sunday's anniversary celebrations of Cruzeiro, the Brazilian club he recently bought.

The two-time Ballon d'Or winner, who top-scored in Brazil's 2002 World Cup triumph, has been experiencing mild symptoms of the coronavirus.

Ronaldo had been due to attend events marking Cruzeiro's 101st anniversary, but the 45-year-old former Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter striker was instead isolating.

His positive case was announced by the Brazilian club, who were acquired by Ronaldo, with the support of an investment bank, in December.

"Cruzeiro reports that this Sunday morning Ronaldo Nazario tested positive for COVID-19," the Campeonato Serie B club said.

"This makes it impossible for him to travel to Belo Horizonte today, as well as his presence in the commemorative actions for the club's anniversary.

"Ronaldo is doing well, with mild symptoms and, on medical advice, is now in rest and social isolation."

Ronaldo has been majority owner of Spanish club Real Valladolid since 2018 and serves as the Segunda Division team's president. He had been due to meet with representatives of Cruzeiro supporters on Sunday and was scheduled to appear at a news conference on Monday before taking ill.

He began his playing career at Cruzeiro as a teenage sensation before heading to Europe to join Dutch giants PSV after the 1994 World Cup.

Ronaldo wrote on Twitter: "Cruzeiro nation, this is not the way I wanted to spend this January 2 which is more than special for us.

"I had the greatest anticipation and everything was organised for this moment. But there are situations in life that are beyond our control and, unfortunately, last night I found myself in one of them. I started to feel bad, had a PCR and woke up today with a positive result for COVID-19.

"The most important thing is that I am vaccinated, I will follow the isolation protocols and, at the end of it, I hope to be 100 per cent recovered to resume my schedule.

"Our meeting was not cancelled, it was postponed due to circumstances. And I make a point of celebrating with you the anniversary of our club! It's just the beginning of our fight together! I count on you, count on me."

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley says it should become clear in "the coming days" if Novak Djokovic will defend his title at Melbourne Park this month.

Djokovic withdrew from the ATP Cup in Sydney last week and has not yet arrived in Melbourne for the first grand slam of the year.

Players must be vaccinated or have a medical exemption in order to play in the opening major of 2022 and Djokovic has refused to disclose whether he has been jabbed.

Tiley is unsure whether the world number one will go in search of a record 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open, which starts on January 17.

"We've still got a few charter flights coming in until the end of this week and then all the players will be here," he told the Nine Network.

"As far as the status relates to Novak, I think we'll have a much clearer picture in the coming days otherwise it's getting pretty late to show up and play the Australian Open."

He added: "There's quite a bit to play out and I think it will play out in the coming days."

Djokovic has won the Australian Open men's singles title a record nine times and beat Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final. 

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