When Novak Djokovic arrived in Australia to defend his Australian Open title, conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated he couldn’t show proof of double vaccination or a medical exemption.
On Thursday, Australia announced that tennis world number one Novak Djokovic would be deported because he failed to meet severe pandemic admission conditions. When Djokovic arrived in Australia to defend his Australian Open title, conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated he couldn’t show proof of double vaccination or a medical exemption.
After Djokovic’s visa was revoked and he was detained at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport overnight, Morrison said, “Rules are rules, and there are no special instances.”
The 34-year-old has previously expressed opposition to being vaccinated but has declined to share his vaccination status publicly. At least once, he became infected with Covid.
He flew to Melbourne despite Australia’s strict Covid and vaccine laws, claiming on social media that he got an exemption to participate in the Australian Open, which starts on January 17.
All participants in the 2022 Grand Slam must be Covid-19 vaccinated or have a medical exemption, which is granted only after two panels of independent experts have assessed them.
Djokovic’s triumphant Instagram picture appeared to put an end to months of debate about whether he would be able to defend his Open title and win a record-tying 21st Grand Slam.
However, instead of returning as a triumphant champion, Djokovic never made it past border control.
Border officers in Australia interrogated the athlete and cancelled his visa after he failed to “present acceptable documentation to meet the entry requirements.”
Djokovic was imprisoned overnight at the airport before being transferred to an unidentified government institution to await deportation.
A deportation order had been expected for just after midday local time (0100 GMT), according to legal sources, but a postponement seemed likely pending Djokovic’s prospective appeal.
‘Justice and truth’ are two words that come to mind.
The news that Djokovic had been granted an exemption to enter Australia without being vaccinated sparked outrage.
For much of the last two years, Australians have been unable to travel or receive family from abroad.
Former Australian Medical Association vice-president Stephen Parnis claimed the exemption sends a “appalling message” to individuals attempting to stop Covid-19 from spreading.
However, the Serb’s treatment upon arrival infuriated his admirers, prompting a sharp diplomatic condemnation from Serbia’s president.
“The entire country of Serbia is behind him, and our authorities are doing all necessary steps to ensure that the world’s best tennis player’s mistreatment comes to a stop as soon as possible,” President Aleksandar Vucic said after speaking with Djokovic on the phone.
“Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, justice, and the truth in accordance with all international public law principles.”
Djokovic’s father shared that nationalistic tone, alleging that his son was “kept captive for five hours” at Melbourne airport and that he deserved a hero’s welcome when he returned home.
“This is a war for a libertarian world, not just for Novak, but for the entire world,” he told the Russian state-run Sputnik news agency in Serbia.
Sanja, a Serbian-Australian of 35 years, had been looking forward to seeing Djokovic play in Melbourne.
“He endured a civil war in order to play tennis, yet he has done no harm to the world. If it were Nadal or Federer, there wouldn’t be as much fanfare.”
‘No special treatment’
Australia’s leaders, concerned of public opinion and rising Covid difficulties ahead of an election, cast fingers at each other over who was to blame for the saga.
Despite the prime minister’s earlier suggestion that it was up to Melbourne officials and Tennis Australia to protect the border, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the government made “no apologies.”
“No matter who they are, anybody who do not fulfil our tough conditions will be denied entrance to Australia,” she said in a statement.
Craig Tiley, the chief executive of the Australian Open, claimed the defending champion had received “no special favour,” but encouraged him to clarify why he was given the exemption to calm public outrage.
If a person has had Covid-19 in the previous six months, they are one of the conditions that allows them to enter without a vaccine. If that was the case with Djokovic, it has not been revealed.
Only 26 of the 3,000 players and support staff travelling to Australia for the competition had sought for a vaccine exemption, according to Tiley. Only a few of them had succeeded.
He stood up for the fairness of the exemption application process.
“Anyone who met those requirements was allowed to enter. There has been no particular treatment. Novak hasn’t been given any preferential treatment “Tiley remarked.
When it was suggested that the Covid-19 vaccine might be made mandatory so tournament play could continue in April 2020, Djokovic expressed his disapproval.
“I am not a pro-vaccine person,” Djokovic remarked at the time. “I don’t want to be compelled to get vaccinated so that I can travel.”
During Djokovic’s interrogation at the airport, his coach Goran Ivanisevic shared a snapshot on Instagram showing himself and the rest of the Serb’s backroom crew patiently waiting for a resolution.
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