Sports Ministry Miffed With Australian Open After Teen Tennis Star Aman Dahiya Expose Organisers’ ‘Double Standards’

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The Union Sports ministry is not happy with the Australian Open organisers after they denied teen Indian tennis star Aman Dahiya entry into the tournament for being unvaccinated. Dahiya, who was hoping to compete in the junior Grand Slam saw his vaccine exemption application rejected by the organisers, even as they accepted men’s world number one Novak Djokovic’s request.

So far, the Australian Open organisers have accepted only four-five applications for vaccine exemption, including that of defending champion Novak Djokovic, out of 26 requests. It is not known, if that includes juniors. All participants at the Melbourne tournament, which starts on January 17, must be jabbed or have a medical exemption, which is granted only after assessment by two panels of independent experts.

India made Covid vaccinations available for people aged between 15 and 18 from January 3 and Dahiya, placed 78 in the ITF junior rankings, is still waiting for his first shot.

“World No 1, Novak gets exemption from two vaccine doses rule and Aman Dahiya is refused entry as he is 17 and does not have vaccine. The blame has to go to Australian Open organisers. This type of third world treatment given to India has to stop,” a sports ministry official said.

Upon receiving the news that his application was rejected, Dahiya said felt “hurt”. “I felt hurt after Djokovic was allowed to play and while I was denied entry for the same thing,” Dahiya said. “The law should be the same for all. This is double standards.”

Dahiya’s coach Jignesh Rawal said the player was missing the opportunity of a lifetime to play on the biggest stage due to a harsh call.

“We thought they are very strict but we saw they allow Djokovic who did not have one vaccine,” Rawal told AFP.

“In a simple email they said ‘you can’t come’ but Mr. Djokovic you can because you are famous. I respect Djokovic but the law should remain the same for everyone.”

According to AFP, the tournament’s medical exemption panel rejected Dahiya’s request and wrote: “Under current Australian guidelines, the applicant would be considered eligible for vaccination and therefore does not qualify for exemption.”

Dahiya is only one of the two Indians in junior top-100 along with Chirag Duhan (77).

Meanwhile there has been a severe backlash in Australia over Djokovic’s entry to defend his title in Melbourne. Tournament chief Craig Tiley said that the defending champion had been given “no special favour” but urged the Serbian to reveal why he got the exemption, to soothe public anger.

Victoria state government had mandated that only fully vaccinated players, officials and fans will be allowed to enter Melbourne Park.

(With Agency Inputs)

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