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Live news: Hong Kong to ban passenger flights from US, UK and Australia

Live news: Hong Kong to ban passenger flights from US, UK and Australia
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Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic has been exempted from playing at the Australian Open in Melbourne this month, prompting an angry response from health authorities and residents.

The Australian Tennis Organization said the medical exemption was granted to Djokovic, the Australian Open champion, after a “rigorous review process” by two independent teams of medical experts including one appointed by the Victorian Department of Health.

The 34-year-old refused to confirm his vaccination status but publicly opposed mandatory vaccinations.

Australian Open director Craig Tilley has stressed that all tennis players, fans and staff must be fully vaccinated “unless there is real reason to grant an exemption” to ensure the safety of all participants.

He told broadcaster 9News that the exemption had been granted to a small number of applicants, including Djokovic, after a review process that went beyond what unvaccinated people entering Australia must comply with. “Ultimately, that is the decision of the medical experts,” he said.

That sparked a strong reaction in Victoria, the tennis host state, which only recently emerged from some of the world’s strictest lockdown restrictions and where the government required some workers to be fully vaccinated.

Stephen Barnes, a physician and former vice president of the Australian Medical Association, said on social media that the decision to allow Djokovic to pay sent a “horrific message to millions” seeking to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19. “I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he refuses to be vaccinated, he should not be allowed in.”

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