Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia under a vaccine exemption was delayed due to visa issues presented by him and his team.
After landing in Melbourne, the 20-time Grand Slam winner was reportedly trying to enter the country on a visa that did not allow medical waivers for not being vaccinated, and when Border Force contacted Victorian government officials to take care of the visa, they refused to do so. So.
The Serbian arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday night local time, but faced problems at the border, with Acting Sports Minister Gala Polford confirming that the state government was not supporting his visa application to compete in the Australian Open.
She tweeted: “I have asked the Federal Government if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia.
“We will not provide individual visa application support for Novak Djokovic to participate in the 2022 Australian Open.
“We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approval is a matter for the federal government, and medical waivers are a matter for doctors.”
And the 34-year-old Serbian player revealed, on Tuesday, that he had obtained “exemption permission” to travel and play in the Australian Open tennis tournament without being vaccinated against Covid-19.
Djokovic has never revealed if he has been vaccinated against Covid-19, but he has criticized mandates that players must take a double hit.
The response to Tuesday’s exemption confirmation has been overwhelmingly negative, both in Australia and around the world, and ultimately saw Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s assertion that Djokovic would be “on the next plane home” if his evidence was of an exemption from the Covid-19 vaccination. The Australian Open is not satisfactory.
“There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all, absolutely nothing,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“He must because if he is not vaccinated, he must provide acceptable evidence that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and be able to access the same travel arrangements, as fully vaccinated travelers.”
Rules in Victoria, where the Australian Open will start on January 17, said players must be vaccinated twice against Covid-19.
Championship director Craig Tiley previously said it would be “helpful” for Djokovic to clarify his position on what exempts him from the vaccination.
“We fully understand and sympathize that some have been upset by the fact that Novak Djokovic has come because of his comments about vaccination in the past two years,” Tiley told reporters.
“We would like… Novak to talk about it and help us with that, but it is ultimately up to him.
“We are not in a position, even legally, to disclose medical information to other people.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morrison’s comments were echoed in a statement issued by Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.
“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those arriving at our borders comply with our stringent border requirements,” its statement read.
“No individual competing in the Australian Open will receive any special treatment.”
Tiley revealed that 26 non-vaccinated players had applied for exemptions, and Djokovic was among only “a handful” given the go-ahead under guidelines set by federal regulators.
The criteria listed by the Australian Technical Advisory Group as permissible grounds for medical exemption from acute major medical conditions range to any serious adverse event attributable to a previous dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
The possible explanation is that Djokovic contracted the coronavirus for the second time at some point in the past six months, having previously contracted it during the much-criticized Adria Tour event in Belgrade in 2020.
That would eliminate the need for a vaccination, according to rules published last year by one of the independent medical committees involved in the decision.
The preparation for the first major tournament of the season was dominated by whether Djokovic would participate.
Speculation increased after he withdrew from the Serbian national team, which is competing in the ATP Cup in Sydney, without explanation.
The tournament gives Djokovic another chance to break away from rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have each won 20 Grand Slam titles.
It was a challenge in the 2021 Grand Slam but failed in the US Open final by losing to Daniil Medvedev, the man he beat in the Australian Open final last year.
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