- Reigning Champion and World No 1, Novac Djokovic denied entry into Australia despite exemption permission”
- Djokovic continues to remain in the Australian immigration detention as his lawyers battle to secure his release for the Australian Open
- No official statement was released on the reason for his medical exemption.
Serbian tennis star and World No. 1, Nova Djokovic was forbidden entry in Australia and his visa was revoked. He spent another day in Australia’s immigration detention on Friday amid his lawyers scrambling for legal approval to ensure his release for the Australian Open. They have appealed for an exemption from the strict Covid-19 vaccination requirements. A full hearing on the issue is scheduled for Monday.
The defending champion, on Tuesday, posted on social media about his “exemption permission” to participate in the Australian Open tournament. Protocol dictates all participants to be either fully vaccinated or seal a medical exemption from the 14-day quarantine mandatory before entering Victoria.
The cancellation of his visa, hours after landing in Australia despite getting an exemption has amplified into a hot button issue. Chief of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley clarified in a statement that those seeking exemption had to go through a two-stage process where the assessment of the application is done by a Tennis Australia panel first and then by the Victorian government. Aleksander Vucic, Serbian President accused the Australian government of persecution and harassment. Canberra denounced the allegations.
Djokovic was denied entry by government officials after his flight landed late at night at Melbourne airport on Wednesday. The Australian Border Force spoke of Novac’s failure to meet the “exemption requirements”. This led to the cancellation of the star’s visa following which he was taken to a hotel located in the suburbs that functioned as a detention centre.
The permit that Djokovic has received to enter Victoria was from the state government which is not authorised to issue visas to international visitors in the first place. There was no official statement on the reason for his medical exemption. The Australian government allows individuals who contracted Covid-19 in the past six months to undergo medical exemption but this is restricted only to Australian nationals and not for foreign nationals.
Australian Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews said that the exemption granted to play tennis in Australia is entirely different from that required to enter the country for official purposes. In addition to a visa, one needs to possess a Covid-19 PCR test and complete vaccination or medical proof suggesting ineligibility for being vaccinated (in the case of individuals who recently contracted Covid).
No preferential treatment was given to Novac Djokovic at the detention centre, as reported by Tennis Australia and Victoria government officials.